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Archive for the category “Quilting”

Catching up….

When last we spoke, I was bemoaning the fact that my creative muse up and hit the road!  I believe she has found her way back to me.  Welcome back, little muse!

It’s funny how things can make you think of quilts.  I was driving home from work a few weeks back and heard “Sweet Baby James” by James Taylor on the radio.  It made me think of a quilt I made a while back.  It was back in the day when I (and many others) was enamoured by the Jane Stickell quilt.  I was determined that I was going to make one for myself…all 200 plus tiny blocks.  How hard could it be?  Pretty hard actually.   At least pretty time-consuming.  Then I saw where others were making smaller versions….Baby Janes.  I could do that!  And I did.  The song kept going through my head ….. “deep greens and blues are the colors you choose”.  So I chose deep greens and blues and made my own little Baby Jane.  Here’s my Sweet Baby Jane.

baby_jamesLast summer, my sister and I made another quilt for the veteran’s home.   It was my job to quilt it.  I was going to fmq on my Bernina but I was talked into using my Juki on the frame.  I’ve discussed my Juki/frame here before…when it works, it’s wonderful!  When it doesn’t, I make up swear words.  Let me tell you, I made up some doozies!  It began by lulling me into a false sense of security…things went rather smoothly for a while.  I was flying!  Then the thread started to break.  I’m OK with a little thread breakage…not every six inches.  Then the machine started to drag.  It was hanging up on the frame somehow.  Couldn’t figure it out.  The answer soon emerged when the crazy carriage fell off the rails.  Think that was what was dragging? 🙂  It took my husband and I a half an hour to get it back on track.  Started to stitch again and got the mother of all thread nests.  It was a nest for an ostrich!  Walked away from it for a week.  Came back and tried to remove the nest.  I had to cut it from the quilt and then take the  machine apart to remove all of the thread.  Cleaned it, oiled it and guess what!  It stitched really pretty after that.  We have a love/hate relationship!

charityHere’s the quilt.  I’m sure that all of my aggravation will be appreciated.

bookAnd last, but not least, I’ve jumped on the hexie bandwagon.  Given my aversion to hand sewing I was sure this parade would pass me by.  Then Mickey Depre came to our guild meeting.  If you haven’t seen her Pieced Hexie book click here and take a peek!  I stitched these all the way to Fort Lauderdale and back last week.  They really are fun….and addictive.  Begin at your own risk!!

hexiesAny other late-comers want to join me on the hexie bandwagon?

I feel crummy today…

My sister started it.  She started making crumb blocks.  And, like the lemming I am, I jumped right in after her.  I’ll admit that I was resistant at first.  Why would I want to sew little scraps together all willy-nilly?  I’m a symmetrical person fo cryin’ out loud!  I love need balance.  (my nine-year old grandson asked me Saturday if I knew what symmetry was.  Unfortunately, at times, I know all too well!)  So, the thought of grabbing a couple of scrap pieces out of a basket and making them fit gave me fits.  And what if one of the scraps was, say, a Christmas fabric…in a non-holiday themed quilt.  My quilting OCD wouldn’t let me do that.  Oh dear!  I told myself this would drive me batty(er) and I don’t need the stress.

And my sister kept talking about her crumb blocks.  How much fun they were.  How cool they were. How many quilt tops she made.  I tried to resist.  I really did.  But resistance was futile.  I jumped in.  At first I just sewed them as leaders and enders.  A snippet here….a square there.  A strip along the Flying Geese that didn’t fly right.  Uh oh….this was fun!

So I started to look forward to the crumb blocks more than the project blocks.  And then…(dramatic pause)…I put the project away and made crumb blocks.  Not a million, but quite a few.  I found myself going through my large scrap baskets and cutting smaller pieces and locating all of those orphan half square triangles.

crumb_pileI think this is what we all need at times…some mindless sewing.  The kind that’s very forgiving.  The kind that doesn’t count mistakes.  The kind where mistakes like my wonky Flying Geese can find a home.  We all need crumb blocks.

blocksWant to see how to make them?  Click here to visit Bonnie Hunter’s blog.

In a funk…

I’m in a funk.  I hate funks!  But I’m in a funk. 

lackadaisical-184714I had every intention of telling you about my third grandchild.  I was going to show you the crumb blocks that my sister made me make.  I was going to show you New York Beauty blocks that I completed.  But I didn’t do any of that.  Because I feel like that little turtle.  I’m on my back and no matter how hard I roll around I can’t seem to get upright.  I spin to the right and I spin to the left and nothing happens.  (Insert deep sigh here)   I believe that it happens to everyone once in a while and we help each other out of it.  It’s just no fun when it’s you!!  It appears that my creativity is on hiatus.   My imagination is on vacation.  And here I sit, waiting for it to come home. 😦

Anyone out there have a stimulus?  A kick in the pants? A smack upside the head?

Look here!!

Look what I got for $6 a bag!!

fabricLast week I saw a post at Inspired by Antique Quilts about scrap bags.  I had to check it out.  I couldn’t get to the site fast enough!  The last thing I need is more fabric, right?  Don’t judge me…you know you do the same thing! 🙂  But I’m a sucker for scrap bags.  I love the mystery.  Crazy, huh?  I feel like a kid when I open them up…Whadyaget? Whadyaget?  These are particularly wonderful because I could choose repro fabrics as opposed to an eclectic mix that I probably wouldn’t use.  Opening the bag and seeing all the little snippets of textile joy brought a smile to  my face.  Big pieces, little pieces, strips and squares all waiting for a spot in some wonderful quilt!  (Of course, knowing me, they have a little bit of a wait.  Maybe they have brought their knitting!)  I take them all out and fold and refold them and envision them in projects.  (I’ve already designated a few for my MarioFan’s quilt.)  And what trip to a quilt shop (online or brick and mortar) would be complete without a trip to the clearance area.  Many a backing is found here!  And I didn’t disappoint.  Found a few things I liked there also!  If you love scrap bags as much as I do, click over to Homestead Hearth and have a look.

Oh yeah!  And look what I found on my porch Friday!

canonAnother learning curve!!!

Alas Zippy…we knew you well.

This is all that remains of the second incarnation of Zippy the Monkey.

zippyYeah, I know…he scares me, too!  Zippy belongs to my boss (Hi, Beth!) who has had him for 59 years.  Over those 59 years, he’s lost an ear and a nose and a hand.  Apparently, as a child, whenever she was upset with her mother, she would chew on Zippy.  I suppose it was cheaper than therapy!  Zippy appeared on my desk last week.  In a moment of weakness or insanity, I said I would try to fix him.  I promise you that I do not partake of the grape before leaving for work…although it’s the only real reason I can think of for the offer. 🙂  So, I’m looking at poor, little Zippy and trying to figure out where to start.  Perhaps a match? 😉

origina;For those of you, who are too young to remember Zippy, this is what he should look like!  We’ll see what we end up with!

nybAnd for my friend and partner in crime, here’s the latest of my New York Beauty blocks.  I only have four completed and many more to go.  But now, with the holidays behind me, I can get back to my machine.  Oh how I wish I could train my husband to remove the paper from the back.  Suppose I could get someone who needs community service?

I’ve been working on the quilt for MarioFan.  I’m really enjoying this one.  I believe I need twenty blocks and I have four finished.  They go together nicely.  After the Grandma nightmare, it’s refreshing to enjoy piecing once again!  Now to get back to free motion quilting.  I’m afraid you’ve all left me in the dust!

UNCLE!!

That’s it!  I’m crying “Uncle!”.

hairI’m officially throwing in the towel on Grandmother’s Choice. I love my Grandma and I love all of the grandmas that fought so hard so I could vote and have equality.  But this grandmother is choosing to move on to another project.  I think I have sewn each block on this project at least twice.  And, no I’m not making two quilts.  I’m estimating that by the time I’ve cut and recut and sewn and “unsewn” that I’ve constructed each block at least twice….some of them more.  I don’t consider myself a quilting idiot but I just can’t get these blocks to turn out the correct size without stretching the bejesus out of them.  And then they’re all distorted.  I don’t know if it’s my measurements or if it’s her trying to fit a nine inch block into an eight inch square.  Don’t know.  I just know that I can’t be that bad every week.  I think I made the Capitol T block at least three times…literally.  The first one was not quite right so I tried it again.  The Flying Geese were flying out of formation!  Recut them…three times.  Resewed it and it was even smaller than the first.  I’m sooo tired of wasting good fabric.  So, I’m officially outta there!  Movin’ on up and all that good stuff…

If Barbara Brackman is reading this (and I’m pretty sure she isn’t. 🙂 ) I still love ya!  And I plan to sew along with the new Civil War block of the month tomorrow.  But quilting is supposed to be enjoyable and for me, this isn’t! 😦

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!  Yes, it’s that time again; where we look back and reflect on the good times as well as play woulda, coulda, shoulda.  Then we make our resolutions only to have them become a far away memory by February.  I don’t know about you but I’ve long since given up on New Year’s resolutions.  Who needs the pressure! 🙂 By the end of January I was beating myself up because I hadn’t done enough to change the world.  So I haven’t made one for many years.

But there’s something about this year that’s making me want to make a “strong suggestion” to myself this year.  You get to that point where you realize you have a whole lot more years behind you than you have in front of you.  And I want to spend those years healthier than I am now.  I have no real health issues and I want to keep it that way!  This is the year that I hope to lose those crummy 15 pounds I’ve been playing with the past few years, eat a healthier diet (bye-bye processed food…except wine :-)) and maybe actually exercise!   OMG…I said the “E” word!  I’m also looking into yoga.  Not promising anything.  Not “resolving” anything.  Just strongly suggesting to myself that this is the year I  take control of me.  Those in my house can come along for the ride if they dare!

We saw the movie “Lincoln” last night (short review–great movie..go see it!) and at one point toward the end, Abe turns to his wife and says “We need to try to be happier.”  And that will be my mantra this year…I need to try to be happier.  I’m not terribly unhappy, but I could be happier.  And it’s my goal to do just that!  Fortunately, quilting makes me happy!

I’ve been working on a quilt for MiniQuilter for over two years.  Took me forever because it was hand-embroidered.  The top is finally put together and it’s awaiting quilting.

basket_blockShe loves the 30s fabrics and this quilt pattern was perfect for them.  I was originally going to send the quilt out to be quilted, but I think Grandma should quilt it.  So that is my goal.  And I DO resolve to finish this quilt!

basket_quiltI can’t give her this quilt until I make one for her brother.  (Good thing I only have two grandchildren!)  I’ve been looking for a pattern for a quilt for MarioFan without much luck.  I was in the grocery store with my husband and thumbed through McCall’s American Loves Scrap Quilts and there it was! Paper Chain!

paper_chainI think it’s a perfect pattern for a boy’s quilt.  The picture of the finished quilt is a page from the magazine and the block is my test block.  It went together really well and pretty quickly.  I’m thinking I want to make it basically in blues and browns with a little bit of green and/or red.  I’m kind of excited!  The new year needs a new project!  And I resolve to finish this one also!

chain_blockWhat are your quilting resolutions….or “strong suggestions”?

Oh happy day!!

Oh happy day!  As much as I love the Christmas holidays, I’m always a little bit relieved when they are over.  It’s finally time to relax just a little bit…a time to do things that don’t involve food.  A time to emerge from the sugar coma that sometimes comes to represent the holiday season.  A time to do some things for ourselves.  Don’t misunderstand…I love to do things for others.  It makes me feel good…makes me smile.  But sometimes I need to selfishly claim some time for me…to do whatever I want to do.  And that’s what I did today.

I tried to do that yesterday but it didn’t work out so well.  I started down to the sewing palace numerous times and was side-tracked almost every time!  Woke up late…started to watch Rachael Ray…liked what she was cookin’ for dinner.  That required a trip to the store.  Which usually means a trip to two stores…no store has everything.  Yesterday was no exception.  Two stores later, I was home and set to sew.  My husband came home for lunch.  After lunch, I caught a glimpse of the People’s Court on television.  (Don’t judge me! 🙂 ).  I finally pulled myself away from the TV and went downstairs…two thirds of the day down the drain.

Since I hadn’t sewn a thing but Barbie clothes and a Christmas stocking for weeks, I knew I had to piece.  But what?  Before the holiday season, I decided that I was going to deep six the Grandmother’s Choice project.  I wasn’t crazy about the fabrics I chose and just generally wasn’t feeling the love for it.  So, with the attitude that life’s too short to make quilts I don’t like, I decided the heck with it!  But when I entered the palace, I thought maybe I’d give it another try.  Of course I only had ten blocks completed and they were already on block seventeen and it seemed a little bit overwhelming.  But I cut out the pieces for the schoolhouse block.  There was a time I loved house blocks.  That time has passed as of last night.  I have no idea why I had so much trouble with this block.  I’m just glad I’m not a contractor…wouldn’t be in business long I promise you!  It was pretty lopsided building.  I pressed the heck out of it and it was OK…except on the bottom.  I was not about to remake the block so I hacked off the bottom and planted grass.  Guess I’m a better landscaper!

block_11After the housing crisis, I decided to give it up for the night.  Today, I got a much earlier start.  And what I also got was something even better than that…time alone!  There was no one here except me,myself and Irene!  I was giddy with excitement!  Then I needed to decide if I truly wanted to catch up with Grandma.  Yeah…I think I did.  So I dove into Block 12.  It looked a little complicated…dang Y-seams again.  But it actually went together quite well!  OK…one success…we’ll try another.

block_12On to Block 13.  I thought the directions were a little bit vague.  I cut a rectangle that was at some point supposed to become a pentagon.  The directions neglected to tell me when that would happen.  There were triangles that didn’t look nearly large enough so I cut others.  Those didn’t work either.  (Of course, they didn’t…they were the wrong size!)  I sat and looked at the pieces for several minutes and the solution finally came to me.  It would have been nice if the directions had included that little bit of information.  I’m hoping that those of you who have made that block know what I’m talking about.  I don’t want to be the only dummy!

block_13Isn’t this fabric just perfect for Grandmother’s Choice?

close_upNext up is Block 14.  No issues at all with this one.  A nice, simple Churn Dash type block.  A nice break from Y-seams!

block_14And finally, Block 15.  This went together very easily!  (Looks a little Christmasy, doesn’t it?) In fact, I decided to quit while I was ahead.  There’s always tomorrow.  I hope to be caught up soon!

block_15I’ve had some issues with these blocks finishing up to 8.5 inches.  They are all just a little bit too small.  I have two quarter inch feet for my machine…one with a blade and one without.  I was frustrated that some of the blocks were a little too small so I started to troubleshoot.  I’ve been using the foot with the blade.  I looked closely at it and I saw that the blade is not right next to the edge of the foot…there’s probably 1/16 or less gap between the blade and the edge of the foot.  Now if the edge of the foot is the quarter inch mark and if I’m lining the edge of the fabric against the blade, my seam is a “smidge” too wide.  Multiply those smidges by every seam and I’m guessing that’s why my blocks are just a “smidge” too small.  The last block I made today was made with the foot without the blade and it was fine. Have any of you had an issue with a quarter inch foot with a blade?

How time flies…

…when you’re having fun.  Or supposed to be!

After getting through Thanksgiving with little or no drama–no dropped pies or turkeys that didn’t cook–decorating for Christmas should be  a piece of cake.

It’s a tradition (or a curse–not sure which) to decorate the weekend of Thanksgiving.  Since this was Mr. Christmas’ (aka my husband) first post-retirement Christmas, decorating should be a snap this year!  Or not…   It’s well documented that when we decorate, the rest of the family scatters to the four winds.  No one wants to be around when the battles begin.  Getting  a pre-lit tree has helped tremendously in curtailing the not so festive words that would fly around the tree trying to get the lights wrapped around the branches just right.  And, yeah, those nuggets came from me.  Mr. C was always too busy having a holly, jolly Christmas.  No holly, jolly for me until the decorating is done.

This year we were getting an early start–a whole day early.  Maybe this wouldn’t be a lost weekend after all!  Step One…assemble the tree.  You know, as they say, it’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt….or the tree falls over.  Yep, our tree decided to keel over.  The “trunk” bent and we watched it fall like a giant redwood in our living room.  Mr. C decided to just bend the trunk back the other way and it should be good to go for one more year.  Oh yeah…that worked…for about 60 seconds.  Tim-ber!!  It came down again.  Two choices…tie it to the window locks or buy a new one.  We had a tree that had to be tied up back in the day.  Even though we tried to make it look festive by tying it with red ribbon, the bottom line was it just looked tacky.  So, off to the store we went.  By this time Mr. C was no longer holly, jolly and since I wasn’t to begin with, you can imagine the mood in the car.  Add to that a little thing we call “Black Friday” and I think you know where this went!

The store was not very crowded–grateful for that.  They were also not very cheap.  If I need to buy a new tree I’m the day after Christmas bargain hunter, so I was stunned by the prices.  Narrowed it down to two and couldn’t decide–should I go cheap or go pretty?  Mr. C reminded me that we weren’t buying a house …just a Christmas tree.  PICK ONE!!  OK…so I went with pretty.

Later on that evening, MiniQuilter and MarioFan came by to “help” decorate the tree.  I’ll admit to being a little bit tyrannical particular with ornament placement.  It comes naturally—my grandmother was the queen of the ornament placers!  I had to keep reminding myself that in a couple of years they won’t want to help decorate and I”ll be sad.  But WHY do kids find the butt-ugly ornaments–the ones you just can’t bring  yourself to toss out for whatever reason–and put them right in the front of the tree?

Right in the front where i have to look at it every time I pass by!  Is it a kid thing?

But when it was all said and done the tree was pretty and it was finished in one day.  Sitting on the couch with a glass of wine and Mr. Christmas with a beer, it looked pretty and festive.

Which gave me all day Sunday to sew.  I had made a baby quilt for the granddaughter of a good friend.  It’s an I Spy quilt.  Picked up the kit for $7–all cut out and ready to go.  Pieced it quickly and it looked cute.  I decided that since I had a poly batt, I’d use that.  After I started to stitch-in-the-ditch, I remembered why I don’t use poly.  I like flat quilts and this had too  much loft  for me.  Too late to change horses now.  So I plugged along.  I did some nice swirlies in the border–several times.  I had to “unsew” and resew because the backing folded over and was caught in the stitching.  I don’t know how many times I have to do this before I learn.  Apparently…several!

My favorite part not) of quiltmaking was up next…the binding.  It actually went on pretty well for a change.  But I have lots of trouble with mitered corners.  Mine do not look nice.

Maybe it’s practice..maybe it’s me.  I just know I’m not happy with the results.  So I walked away from it and came back to it later.  It didn’t look so bad.  The baby won’t my mistakes.  And I don’t think his mom will either!

Still gearing up for Barbie…   🙂

And they’re off…

I finally got my Sandy blocks in the mail to My Patchwork Life.  I had a ball making the blocks.  The Disappearing Nine Patch is easy and fun.  MiniQuilter wanted to take a shot at making a block.  The light blue block on the left is hers.  Not bad for an eight year old. 😉  She had been hiding from her sewing machine lately but she’s taken an interest once again.  I’m happy to see that!

Now for one of my What in the Hallelujah Was I Thinking moments.  I decided it would be fun to make MiniQuilter some Barbie clothes for Christmas.  I made her American Girl doll clothes last year.  They were fun to make.  They were also big!  After I got home with patterns and teeny weeny snaps and miniscule elastic I thought to myself…what have you done?!!

 Barbie is pretty small and my eyes aren’t what they once were!  But here I am looking at sparkly red foo-foo fabric and tiny little red ribbon roses.  I believe I’ll devote one day to it.  Close myself up away from the world and make those little buggers.   And when I’m finished, I’ll emerge from my sewing palace and head straight to the royal kitchen for a glass or four of the fruit of the vine!  What we won’t do for our grandchildren!!  Cheers!

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