Santa Quilt

September 1, 2018

No, it’s not Christmas, but it is September first.  Where in the world did summer go?  We’re still having summer weather, so it’s shorts and t-shirts being worn everyday, but Christmas in my sewing studio.  Why Christmas?  The Santa quilt has finally gotten some attention again.

I’ve talked about working on the Santa quilt so much here,  that it is way past time to give you all a status update.  This might take the record for taking me the longest quilt to piece, but here is how it looks so far:

First Row

The Santas are hand embroidered redwork designs (so are the little cornerstones inside the stars), and all  embroidery has been done for over a year.  I placed 5 little pieced blocks  around the Santas to add interest.  Then I added a 1/2″ black border to set off the blocks.  All 12 of them are ready to be added to the lattice.

Each lattice piece is different, and there is no pattern, and that is what I’ve consistently been screwing up.  I’m winging it and trying to make the stars wonky.  Wonky is hard for me.  Precise positioning is easy – as those little blocks around the Santas pretty much well prove my point.  Some of them have 32 pieces in them, and they finish to 4″.

I’ve taken each visit to the seam ripper with a good attitude though.  It’s only fabric.  I have more of it.  Mistakes happen, and either having to take BP medication for the first time in my life, or old age has mellowed me out.  Surprises even me.  😉

I love, love, love this quilt, and hope to get it completely pieced by the end of September, but am not making any promises.  I thought it would be pieced by the end of June, then the end of July, then the end of August.  Now I know it will be completely pieced when it’s ready to be completely pieced.

Hugs…

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Sashiko

August 18, 2018

The Ogden Farmers Library art group formed about 7 years ago, and we had a fun day Thursday exploring Sashiko.  This is something I’d never done, and it was so easy.  Couldn’t believe I haven’t tried this before.

This is what I made, some towels:

sashiko

Instead of making another small fabric square of a technique, and adding it to the pile of previously tried new techniques, I decided to make something useful – towels.  Also in an effort to start using what I’ve already purchased, I located an entire bolt of Osnaburg fabric.

Now Osnaburg fabric is not exactly a soft cotton fabric, but it is 100% cotton with a nice open weave.  Well, it had an open weave before I machine washed it and machine dried it, but heck, that’s how I wash my towels, and I was determined to make these useful towels.  I thought it would be a good idea to prewash the fabric before I embroidered it.  It was still easy to hand embroider.

And the embroidery thread?  Well, I have hundreds, yes hundreds of cones of machine knitting yarn in my home.  That’s what happens when you were a machine knitter at one time.  You know how quilters amass a good portion of fabric for their future use?  Well most machine knitters I know, pretty much well purchased coned yarn, like quilters purchase fabric. I’m both, so you can just imagine what my textile resources are.

I pulled out this variegated, 100% cotton, 8/2 weight coned yarn to use for the embroidery thread.  It worked like a charm.  I offered to share it with the other ladies present, but had no takers.

See the size of that cone?  I could make towels every week, till the day I died, and I wouldn’t make a dent in it.  It’s a good 2 pounds of yarn, but you know what?  It felt great to use some of it, and who knows?  I might start using some of my coned yarn on my knitting machine again.  I do still own one.

Hugs…

Free Motion Quilting

August 14, 2018

I used to be pretty good at FMQ, but my oh my, did that recent Comfort Quilt test my patience.  I lost my FMQ mojo.  That’s what happens when you don’t practice – often.

I was so upset that I was considering purchasing a new sewing machine – the Juki straight stitch only one – the mini version.  Came to my senses and realized, no, it wasn’t the sewing machine’s fault, it was little old me.

Determined to get better, I watched FMQ shows on YouTube and old Craftsy classes I had purchased, and practiced, practiced, practiced.  After 2 weeks of almost daily practice, this is what I sewed out today:

FMQ

Yes!!!  Now that’s more like it.  Not perfect, but I’m happy with the improvement.

I will now practice FMQ a few times a week, or I’ll lose my mojo again, and can’t let that happen.  😉

Hugs..

Bee Sewcial

August 8, 2018

I’m a member of a small group of quilt artists called Fiberistas, and we were looking for a small monthly project to try recently.  Beth sent us links to a concept new to all of us.  It’s called BeeSewcial.  Seems there is a thriving group on Instagram and on the internet, where members select a Queen Bee monthly.  The Queen Bee chooses a theme.  It can be a particular block, a thought, a word, a song, etc…  The members all make a block and gift it to the Queen Bee, who then makes a quilt out of the blocks, and gets to keep it for herself.

We all thought that was a great idea as our last group project – a Round Robin ended halfway through.  Some of the pieces were getting rather large, and interest waned. One block a month is very doable, and still lets us try all sorts of new techniques, and we get to make a quilt for ourselves.  The best part?  We each receive a block made by someone we all love.  Doesn’t get any better than that.

We decided to have all the block sizes be divisible by 3.   A block can be as small as 3″x3″ or 3″x12″ or anything between, but none larger than 12″x12″.  This will be fun and possibly challenging to put together 13 variously sized blocks, and should result with lots of great varied arrangements.

Jess chose Square in a Square, and I finished mine already.  It is 9″x9″.  Yes, good old procrastinator me, finished it a full month ahead of time.  Here it is:

Jess

She mentioned she liked batiks, so batiks she got, and I had oodles of fun playing with the design section in my Pfaff sewing machine.

That center embroidery started out life as a single scallop.  I multiplied it, tapered it, rotated it, and had the best time ever creating those squares, within squares in the center.  Sense a theme here?  More squares in a square for Jess.

This is the first time in years, and I mean years, that I used the embroidery module on my sewing machine.   It was so much fun.  That module is staying on my sewing machine, and I have big plans for it – in between finishing up the Santa quilt.

Hugs…

 

Good to Feel Good Again

August 3, 2018

It’s been a long haul here, but I’m finally feeling good again.  Let me tell you, it’s no fun to be dizzy, short of breath, and have no energy for a couple of months.  It lasted way too long, but am very grateful to be doing well again.

Comfort Quilt #16 was started in Tucson, and completed in Churchville.  It was free motion quilted on my Pfaff – with the nice big space between the needle and machine.  It’s the next best thing to a sit down quilting machine set-up.

Comfort Quilt 16

The fabric was gifted to me by a dear friend, and now I am passing along the good will by donating it to my quilt guild’s Comfort Quilt group.

Hugs…

 

Surprise, Surprise

June 24, 2018

The day after my birthday, I ended up in the ER traveling by ambulance no less.  Quite a shock.  Was there for hours, had a gazillion tests, and sent home with orders to see a cardiologist the next day.

Have you ever tried to get an appointment with a cardiologist in one day?  Ain’t going to happen.  Didn’t matter because I ended up in the ER again, 24 hours after my last trip.  At least this time, my husband drove me, and we went to a different hospital.

This ER visit was 6.5 hours in the waiting room followed by being put in a room with a guy coughing so badly, I was worried about my husband getting sick.  I was admitted for observation, wore a heart monitor, and got sent home with BP meds, and an appointment to see a cardiologist.  Nice of them to make it for me.

Two days later I realized I caught an infection while in the hospital, so got to take antibiotics, and the next day realized I’m the one who caught what the guy in the bed next to me had.  Such joy – not.

I’m feeling much, much better now, and am looking forward to working on my Santa quilt again.  I’m also hopeful the rest of the year will be happy and healthy for me,  my loved ones, and all of you.

Hugs…

 

It’s My Birthday

May 29, 2018

Another year, another birthday, but as I age, I realize another birthday is not guaranteed to me.  Of course, another birthday has never been a given, but the reality of my mortality hit hard this year, when my best friend from high school, passed away this Spring.

All of us who knew her, knew this was coming, but it didn’t make it any easier for us when it happened.  This was a release from all the chemo, radation, fatigue and clinical trials she endured, but I still miss hearing from her.

My friend stayed positive till the end.  She stayed hopeful, kind to her friends, and as her husband said, “Everybody who knew her, loved her.”  True that.

With this birthday, I’m now a year older than my friend was when she passed away.  What will I do with my time on this earth?

Take it day by day.  That sounds simple, but how many of us live in the present?  We make bucket lists, we have our calendars filled with meetings and appointmets, and then what?  We get stressed  filling up our lives with “To-Do” lists.

Today, the sun is shining.  That gives me joy.  I love seeing the sun.  Watching how the landscape changes colors as the sun moves across the sky – the highlights, the secret, shady areas – it’s all quite spectacular.

Last night we had a full moon.  It never fails to awe me when I can walk around my house in the middle of the night without a light on, and have it illuminated by the glowing moon.  There is something magical about moonlight.

Do I have future plans?  Not a lot of them.  Am I bored?  No.  I have a gazillion projects I can be making – or maybe not making, but am working on them one at a time.  It’s a lot more fun for me to work on more complicated projects now, and take my time with them.

I’m taking daily walks again.  It’s good for my body, and it makes me happy.  After breaking my femur this past January, I really appreciate the ability to walk.

Lest you think I’m withdrawing from life, nothing could be further from the truth. I’m eliminating activities that keep me busy.  I don’t need to be busy.  I want to be engaged in what life brings my way.  Spontaneity and reflection will be welcomed with open arms.

Hugs…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Delilah Pieced

May 17, 2018

Oh Happy Days!!!  Delilah is pieced.  I’ve hired a long arm quilter to do the quilting as the sheer number of seams in this quilt has intimidated the bejeebers out of me.

My Delilah completedI attempted to create some places for your eye to rest by using a red and white polka dot fabric for most of the small solid colored squares in this quilt.  I don’t think that was successful, but it did result in a much lighter, brighter quilt – which is fine by me.

Delilah made her debut for Show and Tell today at an art group meeting, and after the reveal, I was rewarded by a resounding silence.  Seems this quilt is not for everyone.  That’s okay.  I kind of like it.  After grousing about it from day one,  I’ve finally come around to appreciating her.

So far there have been only 2 people who responded well to this quilt.  One because of the pattern complexity, and the other because of the bright colors.  I’ll take all the positive responses I can get after working on this for a full 12 months.

Tomorrow, I’ll cut the backing fabric, iron the top again, remove all the little threads, then package it all up for Kim Swink – the talented long arm quilter I’ve hired.

Next up is either the Comfort Quilt I made in Arizona, or the Santa quilt.  I haven’t decided which project it will be yet, but I really like both of them, so have some happy, creative days ahead of me.

Hugs…

 

Delilah on the Design Wall

May 8, 2018

Finally, all the large and small blocks are completed – including the 31 small pinwheels, and they are up on my design wall under review:

My Delilah on the design wallThe lighting is terrible, but I am so proud of myself for getting this far.  I have remade a couple of blocks, and am thinking about remaking one of the pinwheels, but assembly has commenced.

There is still one large block that I think should be remade, but it was one stinker of a block to make.  You can probably tell which one I’m talking about – the grey and weird yellow green block a little left of center.

I was determined to use all the fabric I received in my fabric kit.  This was supposed to stretch my use of color, and it did.  Most of the fabric was great, but I seriously disliked some of the fabric.   That weird yellow green was in the fabric kit, but I’m the one responsible for using it, and for pairing it with the grey.  I think it would look a lot better if I removed the fabric around the 8 pointed star, and replaced it.  Sheesh, I just talked myself into it.

Aaargh, this quilt will never be completed.  It’s been a looooooong 12 months, and I learned I will never, ever enroll for a block of the month, or a template of the month again.  Just as I got in the swing of the quilt, I’d finish the month, then have to wait for the next shipment to arrive.

I like focusing on one quilt project at a time, and simply couldn’t get my brain wrapped around working on another challenging project that was in the works.  I solved the problem by shelving the other challenging project, and making a Comfort quilt with very easy piecing so I could happily sew with my quilt group while in Tucson, but really wanted to wrap up work on Delilah so I could go back to my Santa quilt – the other challenging project.  How about that for a run-on sentence?

Now this one-project-at-a-time person, is working on Delilah, wanting to work on the Santa quilt, and has a pin basted Comfort quilt that needs to be quilted.  This causes me stress.  I don’t like stress.  Neither does my blood pressure, and I didn’t have high blood pressure – till now.

It’s all rather silly.  I’m in control of whether I say yes or no to a project.  I just recently had to back out of participating with my friends on a solid fabric quilting challenge that was due in May.  It would have been great fun to display all the quilts together, but I would prefer to survive Spring.  It is awfully pretty in Upstate New York in Spring.  Who wants to be inside sewing all the time when they could be outside in the sunshine, listening to the birds, and seeing what blooms next?

Hugs…

 

 

9 Black Cockatoo Blocks Completed

April 23, 2018

My oh my, I had issues with sewing this simple block.  I have no clue why this happened, but Black Cockatoo, and the substitution I used – Interwoven Star from EQ-8 almost defeated me.  I don’t know if it was because I was excited this was the last shipment, or because I wanted to zip through the process so I could start assembling the quilt.

Here is picture of all 9 blocks:

9 Black CockatooThe bottom right one is the way Jen designed the block, and it grates on my nerves, so I only made one according to the pattern.  The Interwoven Star design is nicely balanced, with resting spots for my eye, so the other 8 blocks I made were that design.

The only onesthat laid perfectly flat was the first one I made on the first row on the left, and the paper pieced one I made that is in the middle of the bottom row.  All the rest had to be ironed into submission.  Have no clue why, as the fabric was all cut the same way, but they needed quality time with my iron and Best Press.

Next are a bunch of half square triangles, and hopefully, they’ll be completed this week.

We are back from Tucson, and while I miss the sun, I don’t miss the really hot temperatures they are having now. And it is oh so great to be back home so I can  pull fabric from my collection, and leave it on my cutting table, chairs, and various tables, then close the door and not see the mess.

We live in our RV when we’re in Tucson, and you really have to put everything away, everyday, or you have no room to eat, or prepare meals.  It wastes a lot of time, and the older I get, the more aware I am of wasted time.

My solution?  I’m going to try and bring more handwork projects down next year.  Setting up and taking down the sewing machine will be reserved for when I go to the craft room with our quilting group.  There is plenty of room to spread out there.

Hugs…