Sunday, May 31, 2009

It's Getting There

This is what I managed to accomplish at yesterday's mini-retreat inbetween laughing and eating.

The first three rows are now sewn together and half of the next three rows are together. I still have several blocks in the next section to finish before I can put them together to complete the rows.
P.S. She liked it! Thanks to all for the wonderful comments about the Irish Chain quilt.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Do You Think She'll Like It?

It's finished except for hiding the threads...that may take longer than the quilting!

Things are busy around here right now, so I'll post more photos and details hopefully in a couple of days...

I'm off on a mini-retreat of my guild's Dear Jane group...

Friday, May 29, 2009

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Giveaway Day!

It's here -- today is Sew, Mama, Sew's giveaway day and I'm participating. This is what I'm giving away --

1/2 yard of Laurel Burch fabric, suitable for beautiful quilt labels -- and a skein of Trellis yarn which could be used for knitting, crocheting, or embellishing.

I'm also planning to make one or two small things out of my selvages, so those will be thrown in as well. No pictures of those, of course, because they're not finished yet. You'll just have to trust me.

Here are my rules -- please be sure to read them carefully.

1. You must comment on this post by 6 PM Eastern U.S. time on Sunday, May 31st. Tell me where you live (no, I don't need your street address -- town and state or country is fine) -- I think it's fun to know where my readers are from. One comment per person, please. There will be one random winner picked either on the evening of the 31st or the morning of June 1st.

2. I will ship internationally.

3. You must leave me a way to get in touch with you if you win. If your profile is set as anonymous or "no reply", I can't contact you if you win. This is important. Too many people lose out on winning giveaways because of this.

That's it -- pretty simple. So go ahead and start commenting and be sure to visit all of the other bloggers with their giveaways. Have fun and thanks for participating!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

I Vote For Efficiency

In Jane Stickle's original quilt, this block has 13 pieces -- four curved pieces for the background, one center and eight melons. I don't have the time or patience to deal with that, so mine is made with just two pieces of fabric. One for the background and one for the entire dark green part. The dark green part was sewn on using the same method that I explained recently in this post.

This is "F-9, Autumn Aster", an intermediate-level block. Again, because of the method that I used, this was about an hour's worth of work.

Monday, May 25, 2009

A Day To Remember

Please take a moment today to remember the ones who paid the ultimate price to give us the life we enjoy.

This is a raggy wallhanging I made in late 2001. It took a lot of snipping and a lot of washing. A bit of advice -- if you ever make a raggy quilt, be sure to wash it in a commercial washing machine, not in your own. I was glad I did (but I'll be the unsuspecting person who came after me wasn't).

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Did Someone Say "Sale"?

Better yet, did someone say "craft rummage sale"?

Yesterday, I went with two of my quilting friends to a craft rummage sale sponsored by the Corning, NY Quilters' Guild. Boy, am I glad I went.

These pictures show all of my loot...for a total of $17.50!

I picked up 2 ziploc bags of quilt-shop-quality flannels -- one with strips of assorted sizes and one with various-sized cuts. Both bags have at least a yard's worth of fabric in them. And a yard of flannel to go with them.

Then I found 16 flannel fat quarters for 50 cents each. Who could pass that up?

I also picked up two large non-flannel pieces -- 2 yards of the butterfly fabric and 4 1/4 yards of the pink -- and 1/2 yard of Laurel Burch fabric that could be used for beautiful labels. And some neat yarn called trellis yarn. It was in a bag with a skein of Angel Hair that I gave to one of my friends before I took the picture. I'm not a knitter, but the trellis yarn looks like it could be a neat embellishment for something someday.

That's almost 14 yards of fabric! Can't beat that. When's the next sale?

P.S. A couple of things you see in these pictures may show up in the giveaway I'll be having in conjunction with Sew, Mama, Sew's giveaway day on Wednesday, May 27th...that is, if I can stand to part with some of it... stay tuned...

Saturday, May 23, 2009

What Have I Gotten Myself Into?

One of my friends (a very prolific quilt-top piecer) asked me about a year ago if I would like to practice machine quilting on this Irish Chain quilt that she made "for no reason". To me, Irish Chain quilts scream for some custom quilting, not just an allover design, so due to my inexperience with that kind of quilting, I told her that she might be better off asking one of our local professionals to quilt it for her instead. She didn't think so and kept after me until I finally gave in and took it home last fall to "study" it for a while. My friend understood that there was no way I could even start it before January or February.

In March I told my friend to bring me the backing and batting, which meant that my confidence level was rising...then it all sat in a bag for a couple of weeks...

I finally decided that I should get up the nerve and really plan how to work on this. In April I was ready to load it on my HQ16 and discovered that my friend had forgotten to piece the backing. Yeah -- that meant I could delay it even longer! If I really liked piecing backings, I would have done it for her, but I don't really like to do that, especially when the quilt is so big (this quilt is about 90 x 1 billion inches -- well, actually more like 90 x 110 or so). I could relax for a couple of weeks..and thought that maybe my friend would get frustrated with the delays and take it to someone who knew what she was doing...

My friend didn't get the message and brought it back to me with a pieced backing and I loaded it on my HQ16 early this sat there for a while...I just kept looking at it and shaking my head.

On Tuesday of this week, I turned on the machine and got to work on the first border. I did a beadboard design and am quite pleased with how it turned out. I quilted a couple more borders and on Thursday started on the body of the quilt. Not perfect, but satisfactory.

These photos show what I've done so far...there's a long way to go yet...this is such a BIG quilt...

Friday, May 22, 2009

Are You Tired Of These Yet?

I'm still on a roll this week...the colors on this one look really washed out. It's much more intense in real life...

This is "F-5, Parcheesi", an intermediate-level block made using the raw-edge machine buttonhole-stitch method (again). The squares and melons were all cut out as one piece, just like I explained in this post. This one was a little tougher because I had to also cut out the center, but it wasn't bad. One hour's work, tops.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

How Long Can I Go On Like This?

Now that I've had a good number of successful blocks in a row, my confidence level is quite high. I hadn't planned on making blocks for three days in a row this week, but when I'm on a roll, I better keep going.

My thanks to fellow Laurel Janes' members Barb A. and Nancy S. for helping figure out how best to approach this block.

This is "D-2, Mouse in a Mirror", an advanced-level block. I used paper piecing and raw-edge machine buttonhole-stitch.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Happy Wednesday

(My mind is drawing a blank for a witty blog post title today...)

Like yesterday's block, this was mainly paper-pieced with the outer diamonds applied using the raw-edge machine buttonhole-stitch method. Thank goodness the diamonds were a bit larger than yesterday's squares!

This is "F-1, Big Top", an advanced-level block.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

How Small Is Too Small?

This is "E-6, Michelle's Medley", an intermediate-level paper-pieced and appliqued block. The four small squares were the appliqued pieces, again with the raw-edge machine buttonhole-stitch method.

For those who wonder what small scraps of fabric can be used for, this is a perfect example. The squares were cut 1/2 inch! They were a bit tough to sew down by machine, but they would have been a lot tougher (at least for me!) to sew down by hand.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Laptop Envy

In our house, it's not a new car or a new Ipod or a new girlfriend that makes the 16-year-old grin from ear to ear.... it's a new....

Laptop! ... All his own that mom and dad can't borrow....but boy, dad was itching to get his hands on getting it set up...but his help was not required... It even has a fingerprint scanner for security........

How many computers does one house need anyway? (16-year-old always many sewing machines does one house need anyway?...)

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Platinum Award

This is "D-4, Crystal Star", a beginner-level block. It is block #130 for me, which according to the Dear Jane website means that I've reached the platinum level.

Now that my Bernina is home, I was able to complete a block using the raw-edge machine buttonhole-stitch method that I like to use for applique whenever I can. All of the dark fabric that you see was cut out as one piece and sewn down as one piece.

I thought I'd show how I make blocks like this.
Hopefully, Blogger will put the photos in the right order...

First, print the block on freezer paper and cut out the shape leaving a bit extra around the edges. Then press the paper onto the fabric.

Next cut along the lines of the shape using very sharp scissors, being careful at the points where the melons meet the square so that they don't come off. Sorry that the photo is so blurry, but it's hard to take a good closeup shot with your left hand while trying to cut with your right.

Then slowly remove the freezer paper from the fabric. Place the fabric on the background square and sew the buttonhole stitch with the machine. Some people use lightweight fusible web and fuse the fabric shape to the background, but I haven't had any real trouble keeping the pieces where I want them to be. I don't like the feel of the fusible stuff in the completed block and I don't like risking gumming up my needle, so that's why I don't use it.

I used this technique for the block I made here, except that the four outside diamonds were sewed on separately. Now that I look at it, if I was very careful, I could probably have done it as all one piece just like today's block. This is another block where the melons were cut as one piece, not four. One more example here.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Back to Normal

My faithful Bernina is now home after a good cleaning and servicing.
I couldn't wait to try it out, so I quickly made up the second set of blocks for the swap that I blogged about yesterday. This set is made from fabrics in my guild's of them is a Hoffman. Although the stash has a good amount of Joann's and Walmart fabrics, I'm often amazed at how many quilt-shop quality fabrics are in there. I guess there are some quilters who like to donate fabric because that gives them a good excuse to go out and buy more!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Swap Time

I've signed up for my first online swap -- this one is with Twiddletails -- it's a swap of scrappy nine-patch blocks. These are the ones that I'm contributing.

I've never participated in an online swap before, but I have done it a few times in my guild. It's always fun to see the different blocks and fabrics that get passed around. However, most of the blocks wind up just sitting in my "to do" pile because I never really have any plans for them and I don't really need more quilts for myself right now.

What I've decided to do with the blocks I receive from this swap is to make a Project Linus quilt. I found a couple of nice fabrics in my guild's stash that would work nicely as another set of blocks for this swap, so I'll include those, too. Once I get everyone's swap blocks back in a couple of months, I'm sure I'll be able to find some sashing, border, binding, and backing fabric in the guild's stash as well that will finish up the job and make a very nice charity quilt. And my friend (the keeper of the guild's stash) will be happy that more of the donated fabric has found a new home.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

I Feel Like A Star

Now this is more like it...

I almost posted this as soon as I finished it mid-morning yesterday because I wanted to move that awful block further down in my blog, but I don't really want to get into posting more than once a day...I have too many other things to do in my life...

I was hesitant to work on this block after the disaster of the block that I showed yesterday, but this was so easy. I don't think I'll shy away from Y-seams again. Sections were paper-pieced and then the outside sections were sewn around the center using lots of Y-seams.

Not too shabby, if I do say so myself.

This is "A-13, Starlight-Starbright", an intermediate-level paper-pieced block.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Who Said I Was A Quilter?

Before you look at today's block, step back from your computer about 10 feet, squint, and take a sip of wine...wait for the wine to kick in...

I wonder how many excuses I can come up with as to why this block is soooo bad...

1. My regular sewing machine is being serviced, so I had to make this on my travel machine.

2. The software has no instructions.

3. I have no quarter-inch foot on this machine.

4. I made it on a Monday morning.

5. My husband spiked my coffee.

6. I'm a sad excuse for a quilter.

This is the perfect example of how being off by even just 1/16th of an inch in every seam can add up to problems in blocks this small. Most of this block was made using rotary cutting...that was the biggest mistake.

At first glance, I thought I would need to sew some Y-seams, but after studying how my friend Tropical Screamer made her block, I realized that I could avoid them by cutting the pieces a bit differently and still get the same look. Yes, I managed to avoid the Y-seams, but I did a bad job with the piecing.

This is "A-11, Pebble's Protest", an intermediate-level block. I don't know who Pebble is, but I think I'll call it "Anya's Protest" because I protest the way this looks....but I'm moving on to the next block anyway...

P.S. I just thought up another's really just my version of free piecing (a la Lazy Gal Quilting). Wonky is in.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Quick Quilt

This is one of my favorite quilt designs, yet it is so easy to do if you use the half-square triangle method rather than diamonds.

I made this quilt in November 2005 for my sister-in-law as a housewarming gift. I bought the fabric and pieced the top in a weekend. It took a bit more time to machine quilt it (no HQ16 yet) and then to bind it, but I had it finished within a week of when I decided to make it. We gave it to her at Thanksgiving that year. She seemed quite pleased.

It was on the way down to visit family in North Carolina that November that I convinced my husband to take a quick side trip to a dealer who had an HQ16 set up. I tried it there and was hooked. At that time, the closest dealers to my home were all at least 3 hours away. A few months later, I finally decided on getting one from Pocono Sew and Vac in Stroudsburg, PA, mainly because it was just 50 miles from my parents' house.

There are just a few more quilts left to show that I quilted on my regular sewing machine...

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day to All!

This post is a tribute to the mothers in my family who came before me. I am not fortunate enough to be able to go back very far in my family's history (church records were destroyed by the Soviets), so I can only go back to my grandmothers.

My mother and both of my grandmothers did some sort of needlework while I was growing up. The first picture is of a blouse that my mother embroidered for me in the early 1980s. It still hangs in my closet, but is in need of a good cleaning. Now that I know a bit about fabric and dye, I think I may be able to make it look good again without damaging it.

My maternal grandmother made the crocheted zig-zag afghan shortly before she passed away in 1974. The throw went to college with me and I still get it out of the closet every once in a while. I also have her sewing machine that she brought with her as a WWII refugee from the Soviet Union (I blogged about it here).

The grandmother's flower garden throw is not a quilt, but a crocheted throw. I'm not sure if it was made by my paternal grandmother or by my mother because they both made several of these over the years. Again, in the 1970s.

The framed doily was made by my paternal grandmother (circa late 60s or early 70s). I have a lot of her doilies in my collection and I used some for a quilt that I blogged about here.

The bunch of grapes were crocheted by my paternal grandmother (same period). The colors have faded a bit since then. I find it interesting that she used bottle caps inside the grapes to give them some form.

She made some of her doilies into stiffened baskets using real sugar! I don't have any of those in my possession and I'm not sure if anyone in the family still does...I know that if I couldn't resist sneaking a lick now and then (remember, I was a young child at
the time), other critters probably couldn't either...

Happy Mother's Day, Mom!

P.S. Remember, every mother is a working mother!