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Archive for the month “March, 2012”

Merrily we quilt along…

It’s Wednesday and time to show Leah and all my quilt along buddies how I fared this week.  If I learned nothing else this week, I learned that tracing the design with my finger helped.  I traced and traced and then when I sat down at the machine I took a good, long look at where I was going.  It helped for the most part.  If I keep looking at where I’m going and not where I am I seem to do fine.  Stop that and I need a compass.  Got lost a time or two and had to do more traveling than I wanted to do.  I also learned that if I nearly bit a hole in my tongue or bottom lip when I was stitching, I could concentrate better.  Although I know I can do better with more practice, I was not unhappy with the result.  Check it out below.

Here is where I think I need some help.  I had quite a few “pokies” on the back.  I was using the needle recommended for the thread I was using.  I adjusted my tension and that didn’t seem to make any difference.  I could also hear the needle flagging…popping.  I’m not sure what the answer is.  Any ideas?  Here’s a picture of the back.

If you click on this photo, it will enlarge and you can see where the top thread is poking through.  The stitches on the top of the quilt  look pretty darn good but the back…not so much.  I have not been able to wrap my mind around leaving the feed dogs up.  I guess my question to Leah would be — would leaving the feed dogs up help with the “pokies”?

I’ve looked over the video for the micro-stippling and all I can say is it’s going to be a tongue-biting adventure!  Stay tuned!

Time waits for no man….

…or quilter for that matter!  I look at books, I read blogs and everyone seems to be so much more productive than I am.  While others stitch, I dream of stitching.  While they quilt, I wish I could.  Today, I was reading Kathleen Tracy’s blog post at The Sentimental Quilter about a Civil War basket doll quilt.  Such a sweet little quilt.  The members of her Yahoo group are making this quilt for the March challenge.  I want to make it so badly.  I have everything I need…fabric, book, pressing bars for the basket handles.  Oh yeah…I don’t have time.  (Insert heavy sigh here.)

Oh poor me!  I don’t have time.  BooHoo!  But wait a minute!  Don’t we all have the same 24 hours every day?  I believe so.  So, why can “they” find time to sew and all I can do is find time to feel sorry for myself?  Oh wait!  Could it be the find time part of the equation?  Hmmmm…

So what’s the problem here?  First roadblock…work, job.  Necessary evil…no job, no fabric.  Oh, other people have jobs, too?  And they accomplish things?  My work day ends at 3:15.  There is plenty of time in the afternoon to sew if I choose.

Second hurdle…the grandkids are over a few afternoons a week.  Seriously, I cannot sew with two eight year olds wreaking havoc and well…just being eight year olds.  Sometimes, MiniQuilter wants to sew and we lock ourselves in my sewing palace.  But she gets to sew and I don’t.  No biggie, really.  I love teaching her and watching her skills grow.

Third obstacle…the husband.  For whatever reason, when he’s home I sometimes feel as though I should sit with him.  Trust me, he’s old enough to take care of himself and does a fine job of it!  Sitting with him means watching the weather channel.  Yeah, you heard me right…the weather channel.  Of all the men in the world, I have to fall for the weather channel junkie.  Does he insist that I sit with him?  Nope…never.  In fact, he tells me to go sew and he’ll make dinner.  As I’ve said before…he’s a saint!  I’m guessing I can’t blame him.

Which really only leaves me with one choice.  Yikes!  Could it be me?  Myself?  Moi?  Could I be….LAZY??  Sad to say…probably so.  I’m given this gift of time…24 hours each day… and I’m handing it back asking “Can I get this in a larger size?”  There is no larger size…24 hours fits all.  So, like Cinderella’s evil stepsister, I’m going to try to put my foot in the glass slipper.  But unlike the evil stepsister, my foot’s gonna fit!

Think I’ll go pull some fabric for that Civil War Basket quilt that’s calling my name!

Rollin’ in the dough

Wednesday was the new installment of Leah’s quilt along.  I have to admit that it made me a little bit nervous.  After all, a whole cloth quilt doesn’t give you many places to hide mistakes.  And goodness know, I make my share of them!  The task for the week was to transfer the pattern to the fabric.  How difficult could that be?  Somewhere in my little brain, I must have thought it was very difficult because I continued to procrastinate.

I finally decided that it was time.  I chose some very yellow solid.  If I was going to screw up, everybody was going to see it…for sure!  Then I thought that on the off chance the quilting actually turned out well, the little quilt needed a frame.  So I added a border.  I printed the pattern pieces and taped them together.  It was time to transfer the design to the fabric.  I had a light box that I used for card making and I soon realized that the little peanut light box was not going to do the trick.  Upstairs to the back door window with the masking tape.  Taped it up and began to trace.  Being pretty darn short, my arms certainly got tired tracing the top portion of the quilt…but it’s done.  And here’s the proof!

I know Leah recommended that we use a thread color close to the fabric color, but look what I found in my thread  treasure box! Being a bit of a rebel (child of the 60s!), I have to use it for the motifs…it just matches too perfectly not to try!  I know I’ll have to be extra careful so it doesn’t look a  mess.  I’ll use the muted tone for the mini stippling.  I’d better use it because the trip to the quilt shop to buy that lonely little spool of thread ended up costing $32!

You saw Maddie in the first picture.  Maddie is a special doll that my sister made for me.  She’s named after my Grandma whom my sister and I both adored!  Maddie is a petty cool doll because she represents a pretty cool memory for us.  My Grandma made mostaccioli cookies every Christmas.   If you’ve never had one, you need to find a way to try one!  They are wonderful chocolate, cinnamon and nut cookies made in the shape of a mostaccioli noodle.    I decided to make them one year.  What an adventure!  You make the dough and roll out little “ropes” and cut them into about 1 1/2 inch pieces.  Not too difficult…the only problem is the recipe makes a bottomless bowl of cookie dough and 36 hours later…with no sleep…you’re still rolling out ropes.  Except now, instead of looking like pasta, they look like logs!  When my sister got married, she was foolish enough to try it herself.  Didn’t learn from my experience….same result, though.  She’s made them many times.  I’ve made them once.  My momma didn’t raise a fool!  So, here’s Maddie complete with her bags of flour and sugar and our favorite recipe!


Saturday was National Quilting Day.  What did you do to celebrate?  Sadly, I didn’t do much.  The intention was there.  The heart was willing…but life got in the way…again.  Darn!  That happens a lot.  I was determined to do a little something to acknowledge the day.  So I sewed two rows on to my Civil War Tribute quilt. I had hoped to add all of the rows, but there was a baby shower in the afternoon.  I only hope I don’t have to wait until next March to complete it!   When I returned from the shower I tried to convince MiniQuilter to sew since it was a quilter’s holiday.  But she would have rather played outside.  Imagine that….she’d rather play outside than sew.  In that aspect, she certainly isn’t her grandma’s girl!  🙂

We’ve been having some very unseasonable weather these past days and it has allowed us to have the windows wide open to let that wonderful warm breeze inside.  MiniQuilter and her brother spent the night and were lying on the floor watching the Adventures of TinTin when Brother said he was cold and wanted a blanket.  I covered him with a quilt (what else!).  He said “Grandma, this is my favorite quilt.”   Funny thing…it’s my favorite also.  I was a little bit surprised to hear he had a favorite quilt.  The two of them have grown up with quilts.  (They’re eight.)  Quilts have always been a part of their lives.   They think everyone has them in their home.  I just assumed quilts were the norm for them.  Silly Grandma!  They noticed…they paid attention!

I’m not sure why my grandson loves this quilt, but I know why I do.  It’s scrappy and I love scrappy.  I love planned quilts, too.  But not like I love scrappies.  I’ve made my share of planned quilts and I love coordinating the fabrics and threads…another reason why I have so many UFOs.  To me, planned quilts say “Look at me!” and they are beautiful to look at.  But scrappies say “Use me…snuggle up…let me keep you warm.”

I love making scrappies because I can have all my favorite fabrics at my fingertips.  When I look at that quilt I can see the familiar “faces” of old friends–projects and fat quarters that followed me home.  Scrap quilts warm the body and the heart.  Guess that’s why I love them.  They love you back.

The alien threat…

I think I have enough UFOs to rival Roswell, New Mexico.  In fact, I’ve been considering renaming my sewing room Area 51.

My projects didn’t begin as UFOs.  I’m sure no one begins a project with no intention of finishing.  But somehow, many of them enter UFO limbo…some never again to see the light of day…or the light of the sewing machine.  My projects rarely become relegated to the closet because I don’t like them.  I genuinely love most of them.  I will admit with some guilt that if I don’t like something I’ll get it out of my life…give it away or throw it away.  That can be very liberating.  Life’s too short to make quilts I don’t like.  But, nope, I love most of them.

So, how do they become relegated to the UFO (Later Tater) heap? I think it’s because I love the process.  I love the planning, the cutting, the sewing, the quilting.  OK…so I don’t like the entire process….I don’t like the binding.  But my mind is always wandering to whatever aspect of the process I’m not doing.  If I’m piecing, I want to quilt.  If I’m quilting, I want to piece. (I never want to bind, however.)  I can be piecing a block and out of the corner of my eye I see a little stack of fabric on the cutting table and I start to imagine baskets or stars.  (I’m so easily distracted…like a cat playing with a beam of light.)  And there is the birth of another UFO.

Here are just a few of the projects with which I have difficulty making eye contact…mostly due to guilt.  Guilt is powerful!!

Here is the Fons and Porter quilt that my sister and I did as a challenge.  She won.  She always wins.  This needs borders…just borders.  I have the fabric.  I swear sometimes when I walk past it I can hear the border fabric begging to be attached.  I pretend I don’t hear it.

Ah…the hand embroidered basket quilt for MiniQuilter’s bed.  There is some hope for this one.  This is nicknamed my baseball quilt.  I have a problem sitting and I need something to do so I stitch the flowers while I’m watching the game.  Unfortunately, the season ended way too early.  I still have four baskets to embroider.  If you look closely, you can probably see the tear stains from every time the relief pitcher blew a one run lead in the bottom of the ninth.  But it’s spring once again and hope springs eternal…for the team and the quilt.

The fan quilt project.  This poor guy has yet to see scissors or needle.  It dates back to my “I love oriental fabrics” days.  Even though I’m drawn more to darker, more mutes tones now, I still love orientals.  So, there is the potential for completion here.  As you can see, I have everything I need–even down to the the beautiful, glittery purple thread for quilting.  Because as we all know, you never know when you’ll be working on the project at 3:00AM and need the thread and the darn shop is closed!

I don’t even want to try to find the bag that houses the turquoise and brown fabrics from our trip to Tucson.  And the afternoon spent in a multitude of bead shops looking for just the right beads for the project. (My husband is a saint.)  Trouble is, I just can’t remember what that project was to be.

Completed tops with no quilting?  Those don’t count.  Or should I say, too many to count.  Quilting is the biggest obstacle for me.  I really don’t like hand quilting and I’m still trying to learn free motion quilting.  I know….practice, practice, practice.  I have a nice frame for machine quilting and when My Juki decides to play nice with the thread, I can do a pretty darn good job there.  However, my Juki is a whole other post!!!!!!

My English teacher would be proud….

I haven’t given a book report since I was probably in the sixth grade…more years ago than I care to remember or admit…but here goes.

I first heard of this Civil War quilt book while reading blogs.  It really grabbed my interest, but since I was in a frugal mood at the time, I sighed and moved on.  I happened to mention it to my husband a few days later and he said  “You should buy it.”  So, being the dutiful and obedient wife that I am not, I ordered it from Amazon before he could change his mind…or sober up.  🙂

It arrived on Wednesday.  For the price, I was expecting a good quality softcover book.  Imagine my surprise when I emptied the box and found this beautifully bound hardcover book!  If you can only have one book about Civil War quilting, this may be the one.  There is a history of quilting during the Civil War, inspiring stories and photos of people who lived through the war and pictures of war era quilts.  I think my favorite part is the section on reproduction fabrics explaining colors, print styles and dyes used in that period.  All with wonderful examples of the fabrics.

My husband has always said he’d like to own a genuine Civil War era quilt.  But since our first born is too old to garner much on the “first born child for a quilt” market, I’m going to have to settle for making reproductions.  Fortunately, a large section of the book is dedicated to  reproducing antique quilts complete with photos, directions and patterns.

Even if you never make a quilt from this book, it’s really awesome eye candy for those of us who love the Civil War reproductions.

Check it out…..Civil War Quilts by PamWeeks and Don Beld.

A cautionary tale…of sorts

Haste makes waste.  I’ve been cautioned about that my entire life.  Sometimes I adhere to that advice…sometimes I don’t.  How I wish I had this time!  Last Wednesday, I didn’t finish my stippling project for the Quilt Along.  So I was determined that it would be ready this week.

This project was going to be good!  If you recall, I tried my hand at pin-basting this time.  It actually worked pretty well.  My biggest complaint was having to stop too often to remove pins.  But, I digress…   I’ve had this quilt top for many years.  I’m sure if you take a good look at the fabrics, you could date the quilt.  I think some of them are bordering on vintage.  But this would be my project…lots of straight lines and shapes to quilt around.  And lots of room to stipple.  Have I mentioned yet that I’m on stippling overload?  I know practice makes perfect but my quilting ADD is kicking in!  I dream about curvy lines.

From the time I sat down at my machine and put needle to fabric, if something could go wrong, it did.  I first quilted the straight lines.  Going sideways was great but going up and down was not.  it finally occurred to me that when I was trying to FMQ the up and down lines, I was waiting for the machine to do the work…feed it through with the feed dogs.  When I wrapped my brain around that realization, the lines looked much better.  On to quilting around the appliques.  These were hand appliqued and let’s just be kind and say that I’m not really an “appliquer”.   I would be moving along at a pretty good clip and then I would be spinning my wheels.  I caught the toe of the foot under the applique….more than once.  More than twice.  Let’s say lots of times.

Then stippling away I began to hate this quilt.  I was tired of looking at it.  I thought about making it a Level 3 UFO…almost completed, but not quite.  But, no!  I was going to finish this by Wednesday!  I had plans to do a double viney thing for the borders but by the time I got there, all I wanted was closure.  So I did a leaf design and it went well.  I was in the groove and the leaves looked great!  Until I thought I was finished.  Something didn’t look right.  Oh yeah…I don’t think you’re supposed to stitch the excess backing fabric to the back of the quilt.  Oops.

So, I’m thinking what’s the easiest way to fix this.  I was certainly not going to take out all of those stitches.  So, I’m looking at it and I decide to cut the fabric away.  HIndsight is always 20/20.  Not a good idea.  It worked for most of it but not where I had the big, fat fold that I somehow missed seeing when I made the initial determination.  OK….in too deep now.  Just trimmed where I could and slapped on the binding.  We won’t even talk about the binding.

I bring it upstairs and tell my husband that it’s going in the trash.  I have enough pictures to prove I actually stippled a whole quilt.  And I was just so ready to get that bad boy out of my life.  Well…he likes it.  “No one will see the back when it’s hanging” he tells me.  No one but me.  I know the shame that’s hidden back there.  I can hear the little bunny on the front saying “Haste makes waste, Doc.”  I’m thinking that maybe I might hang it in my sewing room to remind me to get up and walk away.  Know when to say when…

Here’s the finished product.

And a close-up…

And should you not learn from my mistakes, these little babies are wonderful for pulling out little bits of fabric and threads.

Lessons learned

MiniQuilter (aka Stella) and I went to the program at the library Saturday afternoon.  I have to say I was a lot little disappointed.  Unless I read it completely wrong, I thought it was to be a display of Civil War era quilts.  Sigh……   It wasn’t. The woman brought a collection of family quilts…some from the 1920s.   They were wonderful quilts….for another day.   But my heart was set on Civil War quilts. Since MiniQuilter had to sit in the front row it was going to be difficult to sneak quietly out the door.

The speaker introduced herself and began to talk about her great-grandmother’s family’s journey on the Underground Railroad.  Although the quilts she presented were pieced by her and were unfinished quilt tops,once she began to tell their stories they were no less interesting than the completed antique quilts she had on the side table.

Each quilt top that she displayed contained a quilt block that had a hidden meaning for slaves attempting to find freedom via the Underground Railroad.  Each of the 18 or so quilt tops told their own story of the trials and hardships of those runaway slaves.  I found myself caught up in the symbolism and the stories she told as she remembered them from her grandmother.  She quietly wove in verses from spirituals.  I glanced at MiniQuilter and saw that she was quietly singing along.  I later learned from her that she had learned the songs and the story of the Underground Railroad from her music teacher.  Now she can go back to school to tell her music teacher what she learned about the role that quilts played in securing the freedom of slaves.

I learned a few things on Saturday.  I learned to give things a chance.  This wasn’t the program I thought I was going to see.  But it was a program that I was very glad I saw.  And I learned not to underestimate the ability of an eight year old to understand and feel compassion.  And without getting too political, I learned that I will probably NEVER understand how one man can feel that it’s OK to own another.  It makes my head (and heart) hurt to try to understand that.

Takin’ a break

Ah…it’s Wednesday.  And if it’s Wednesday, I should have something to post for the FMQ Quilt-Along.  I’m hanging my head.  I got nothin’.  I started my applique quilt on Saturday and didn’t get very far…life got in the way.  And it got in the way again on Sunday and Monday … and I think you get the picture.  I’m hoping for time to finish this weekend but it’s not looking good.  The grandkids will be here and I just can’t concentrate with the X-box in the background and the pummeling of each other in the name of brotherly love.  🙂  But wait!  My granddaughter gave up fighting with her brother for Lent….except on Thursday.  So the weekend looks conflict-free!  Why Thursdays?  Beats me…guess we can only expect so much restraint from an eight year old with an eight year old brother.

Today I received the backing fabric for my Civil War tribute quilt.  So, once I finish sewing the blocks together, it can be quilted.  I’m really anxious to see it completed.  Saturday, my granddaughter and I are going to a program at the library.  A woman is bringing her collection of Civil War quilts for display.  Since Civil War quilts are my quilting passion,  I’m really excited to see them.  I tried to convince my husband to go but he expressed little interest so Stella asked to go along.  It’ll cost me lunch, but we should have a fun afternoon.

And, just to prove that I do occasionally finish something, here is my Stars Around the Garden finished this summer.   This picture reminds me that we’re one day closer to summer……………….

I’ve had two photography classes to date.  In each one of them the instructor recommended a 50mm lens.  I’ve wanted one for a while but could never really justify buying it.  But “Teacher said I needed it” so I ordered one.  It should be delivered on Friday and I’m expecting that it will revolutionize my photos.  I can’t decide if I want to be the next Ansel Adams or Anne Geddes.  All I truly want is to get good pictures of the grandkids.

Although I’m learning alot in these classes, I still know next to nothing.  The sweet thing is that my husband knows less than me.  So I can drop all kinds of terminology into the conversation and look pretty smart!  “I wanted the 1.2 but it was just too expensive so I ordered the 1.8”.   Sometimes it’s fun to pretend to be smart!

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