Undecorating for the new year

We will soon be undecorating the house.  Rob has already started taking down village pieces and Santa figurines.  Sydney and I are supposed to start taking down the tree in a little while.  But, in the meantime, I've been sewing.  I've got another border on the black and brown quilt and I've ironed the fabric to cut out a shirt for me.  Just a little bit of indulgence for the new year's holiday.  Anyway, now that it's coming down, it's probably a little late to share the videos of the decorations, but in case you're still looking for a bit of a Christmas fix to get you through the withdrawals, here are a couple. 


I'm looking forward to the new year.  2015 was a great year for my family.  It saw us married and our relationship changed and our kid became an adult.  I'm anxious to see what 2016 has in store for us.  What changes are next?  How will we grow?  Who will we become?  How will we adapt to change? 

That's the beauty of not knowing the future.  It lets things just happen. 

And, lately, I've been relaxed enough to just enjoy them happening without needing to control them.  That's a hugely wonderful thing.  Makes life so much more enjoyable. 

Everybody enjoy your New Year's celebration.  And, may 2015 have been great and 2016 be even better!



It was a very Merry Christmas

I hope your holiday was happy and peaceful as was ours!  We laughed.  We cried.  We told funny stories.  Just like it's supposed to be. 

I cooked.  I cooked a lot.  We do food right!  We had Bubble bread and coffee while we opened gifts. 

And, I made an apple pie...before baking.

And, after baking!  It was real good.  Could have used a tad more sugar and could have baked ten more minutes.  But, it was still good. 

I don't know why Sydney looks surprised.  She knew we were taking pictures.  I did take my apron off before we ate.  It was restraining around the middle...couldn't have that. 

Always done right.  If I want the kid to know my traditions, I have to do them for her...no matter how much trouble they are.  We had a wonderful Christmas.  Family and love in abundance.  Even the kid was pleasant.  And, we all know how difficult that can be for a teenager.  I think she was surprised I didn't make her help.  But, honestly, I decided it was good for her to be left out.  I'm trying to make her appreciate what I have to offer.  And, sometimes that means making her help.  And, sometimes, it means waiting for her to want to help.  (Okay, I know that may not work...but please don't burst my bubble)

On Saturday, I cleaned.  I washed dishes that have been in cabinets for a while, and put them away, clean and usable again.  I did that most of the day.  It was a great, low stress way to spend the day after Christmas.  I'm pretty sure this whole cleaning and organizing thing is related to the end of the year.  I sure hope so.  I've hit a cabinet or two every day or so, just emptying it, throwing crap away, and putting it back together in an accessible way.  I own too much stuff and am taking a hard look at it.  On Christmas eve, I pulled out all the table cloths and tried them on the table.  If they didn't fit, they either became drawer liners or are headed to Goodwill.  I need to do the same with my closet.  But, that's a task for another day.  Cleaning is good.  Cleaning is change.  Cleaning is healing.  For me anyway.  It's a good sign.  Rob always knows that when I start cleaning, things are going to get better.  And, they were pretty darn good before.  But, healing is good, too.  The holidays are always emotional.  Some good and some bad.  And, moving past the bad stuff is always good.  Rob and I have spent a lot of time getting to know one another lately.  And, some of telling about ourselves means we are moving past the hold those things have on us.  For me, that often means saying things, then walking away and feeling about them when I'm alone.  And, washing dishes and cleaning cabinets means two things.  I'm thinking about things and getting better.  And, my house is clean enough that I can clean the places company doesn't ever get to see.  (very big smile)

And, between the cooking and the cleaning and the loving and the family time, I quilted.  I hand quilted until my fingers hurt.  I have almost finished the sashing.  After that, there are just some straight lines along one edge, and then I can go back and "fix" things that aren't right.  And, that's okay because this is a full sized hand quilted quilt and my skills got better over the years I've been working on it, and the importance of the project has grown as it's gotten better and better.  So, a little re-doing is a good thing.

And, speaking of redoing, I have this quilt out.  You can barely see it, but between the off-white flying geese border and the two sizes of squares border, there is an eighth inch line between two strips of black.  That line was a mess.  So, I took off those two borders and yesterday afternoon, I remade the narrow strip (better!) and put both borders back on.  Again, rework that was worth it.  Now, I'm trying to decide what happens next.  I've got the final border laid in, but I'm not sure I'm ready for the final border yet.  We will have to see.  The quilt show isn't until September so I have plenty of time to decide.

Everybody enjoy the last Monday of the year!  A new year.  It's a great time for a change.  Great chances to make things better. 



C day, minus one

Here we are.  Can you believe the year passed so fast?  Our shopping is done...been done.  Although Rob still has packages being delivered.  He jokes that he's trying to break Amazon Prime's two day shipping guarantee.  I worked Monday and have been off the rest of the week.  On Tuesday, we went to see the new Star Wars movie in 3D.  It was good.  But not good enough to keep me from waking from a short nap to all the characters screaming!  Still not sure what they were screaming about.  And, I'll never ask because then people would know that I fall asleep in movies.  That's our secret. 

Yesterday, Rob and I had lunch with his best friend and wife.  We gave them the sunflower quilt that I was piecing a few weeks ago.  They loved it!  We had margaritas on the patio of a restaurant overlooking the hill country.  The weather is beautiful here and we were sitting in the sun.  It was great!

You guys know who we are.  And, I love to tell stories about us.  This is our fun story for this year.  We have a neighbor who is in her late 80's.  Lovely lady.  We've been maintaining her front flower bed for several years.  It started as me sharing some extra plants.  And, now it's turned into creating a garden across the street that I can see from my sewing room window.  She loves purple and we made sure we planted lots of purple flowers that she can see from the kitchen window...which was a real feat since the flowerbed is just under that window...creativity at its best.  Anyway, there were no Christmas lights there this year.  So, we decorated a tomato cage as a tree and Rob took it across the street and put it in her yard, where she can see it from the kitchen window.  Simple and plain.  But such a heartfelt gesture of good will.  And, I'm sure she appreciates it. 

The weather here is so nice that I spent the morning yesterday in the yard.  Even in winter, the garden is delightful.  I referred to it as my second child yesterday.  And, true to my plan, something in bloom all year round.  
Now that all the work is done, I'm enjoying some relaxing hand quilting.  I hope you are also finding some relaxing work to do and that you aren't still out in the hustle and bustle, unless you're one of those people that enjoys the hustle and bustle and finds it relaxing.  Me?  I'd rather sit here and make this thread create a line that goes exactly where I want it to go.
Everybody have a very Merry Christmas, or whatever you do to celebrate the holiday.  I'll leave you with this picture.  Rob sneaked in just a minute ago while I was writing this post and put the hat on me.  The smile says it all. 
Happy Holidays from my family to yours.  May your holidays be peaceful.  That's the best anybody can hope for!
Rob's favorite line of the season: "I found my Christmas cheer.  It was right here on this liquor store shelf all along."  (from Mommy Loves Vodka)


Just a week

Hardly seems it's been a week since I posted.  The Christmas quilts are hung. 

We knocked out a lot of shopping on Saturday.  And, last night, we went to our first party in a dozen years.

We were both a little nervous.  We were invited by a guest and he was the only person we knew.  But, it seemed like a great way to practice being in a party setting.  I'm all about making sure I have things to talk about.  So, we stood in the kitchen.  We heard people say things, like where the trash was, and where the plates were.  So, when other people asked, we knew.  And, then we shook hands and met them.  It was great.  We met a couple that lives near us, and Rob exchanged info with them, so maybe we will have some couple friends.  After all, that was the goal of getting out more, when Syd turned 18. 

I think I started this little project for my friend that invited us last Monday.  Now, it's ready to trim and bind.  This started as a grouping of fabrics that I saw in JoAnn's that made me think of my friend.  I only ended up using the dark floral focus fabric and the reddish fabric from the collection.  The blue and green are from stash.  The back is brown.  I strip pieced the units and then subcut and re assembled.  It really went together quick.  It's not heavily quilted, so that went quick too, and it's a great table runner for his breakfast nook.  Hopefully. it will bring a little color to the space...or maybe he likes all that white.  It makes me nervous.

His house is a museum.  You guys know the type.  Everything in perfect placement, perfectly decorated.  So, now that I know him a little better, every time I'm there, I move something.  He needs a little messy in his life.  And, if I'm anything at all, I'm a little messy!  Everybody needs a little messy!

Y'all have a messy Friday!  Lane


As shown at quilt guild

If yo

u remember, this year I was priviledged to piece the guild's opportunity quilt.  Last night was the unveiling.  It was very nice.  Lots of attention.  Felt really good.  The quilt looks fantastic.  The quilter did great work.  And, as soon as I can get the pictures off my phone, I'll post them here. 

In the meantime, here is the finished sunflower quilt.  It seemed to be pretty popular too. 

I drew out the sunflower shape, in correct size, then drew a sunflower that fit in the gold part.  You can't really see them from the front, but from the back, they're pretty perfect. 

I used a template to fill the border. 

It's simple and nice and perfect for the people it's intended for. 

Everybody have a great Tuesday.  Work is good.  Which means a lot.  And, I'm making some small coasters for some friends for the holidays.  Just a little something I can whip out. 

And, I have a project I want to start.  Because it's just not the holidays if it's not crammed full to the brim with stuff to keep me busy and focused on the important stuff.  Cuz the other crap just loves to come to the party and make a big mess and dare anybody to say anything about it. 



We do it big!

Well, the Thanksgiving holiday is over.  And, today we go back to work.  We all had Wednesday off, so Syd and I cooked and Rob and I ran errands and did a tiny bit of Cmas shopping for one another.  Thursday, it was the heavy lifting cooking.  Slowly, over the years, I've learned to scale it back.  But there's a certain amount of volume that just comes from us all having our traditional favorites.  And, we are good about throwing away very little when it's over.  A little stuffing, a bit of dressing, both wasted because I wanted to make them both.  Sydney's poor pie that didn't quite get done...and wasn't sufficiently stirred so that her slice was bland and mine had all the nutmeg in it.  We ate the rest.  I even hid the rest of the turkey in something that we are going to eat this week.  Sneaky!

On Friday, Syd and I put up the tree.  Rob and I had dinner with a friend and then went out.  We had a wonderful time.  Laughed until our faces hurt.  Next time, we're going to try going out later so Rob can dance.  I could tell he really wanted to, but nobody else was dancing.  My friend doesn't cook, so dinner was quite different from all my cooking we'd been eating.  But, it was all good. 

Saturday, we took the day off from decorating.  I quilted.  Nearly finished the gift quilt I've been working on.  More about that later.  We had Mexican food because that is, like, the antithesis of Turkey and stuffing.  It was delicious!  Our local restaurant might have changed hands or management or something.  None of the old staff is there anymore.  But, the cook must still be there.  She'd been there for 20 years or more and definitely knows her stuff. 

Yesterday, we hung the swag in the living room.  And, I baked cookies and washed dish mountain after cleaning out the fridge.  We had pizza for lunch.  Can you tell how tired my peeps were getting of turkey?  That's why I had to hide it.  Rob and I had breakfast for supper last night...my grandparents always had breakfast for supper on Sunday night, so even that felt kind of traditional.

Parenting an 18 year old is different than parenting a 17 year old.  Very different.  Now, it's time to teach her to have an adult life.  Teach her that people aren't going to be behind her, taking up the slack.  Teach her that just because she doesn't have anything to do, doesn't mean we are going to stay home with her, or entertain her.  It's a bit of tough love.  She's gotten so used to going everywhere with us.  Leaving her home alone on Friday, letting her make her own dinner, and eat it without us, those were hard things to do.  But, they were good things to do, too.  She didn't mind, I don't think.  I think it was just Rob and me that had trouble with it.  I've modeled the things I want her to do.  And done my best to model that change is possible if you want it on things I don't want to do.  Now, it's time for me to model a different behavior; how to have friends and enjoy them, and how to go out and have fun responsibly. 

Those are things she needs to see.  Things she needs to learn.  Just as important as how to do dishes or keep a budget.  And, it's my responsibility to show her what it looks like. 

Now, I need to go walk about six miles... because I might have enjoyed my own cooking a little more than I should have.  Everybody have a good Monday!! 



It wouldn't sing

I bought this kit at a quilt show a couple years ago.  It was one of those "had to have it" purchases.  I knew that even if I never made the quilt, I'd enjoy having the fabrics.  It's also where I learned to open the package and see what you're getting.  But, that's neither here nor there.  I kept it as a kit, knowing one day...one day.

When Rob and I were looking for a project for a gift, this fell off the shelf and he liked it.  We replaced a couple fabrics that he didn't care for.  And, I ironed it and started cutting and making blocks. 

They were so flat.  So little movement.  And, the more blocks I made. the less I liked the quilt.  I even stopped and made some sashing to see if that helped.  But, it didn't.  The blocks are small, 6" finished, so we decided to make more of them.  And, we talked about sunflowers and whether sunflowers are all uniform...or if they have varying shades of gold.  I went to stash and pulled greenish golds and orangeish golds...and, the pattern adapted for me.  Instead of just laying there, it started to have movement.

Next, we bought a border fabric and replaced the greens again...  I know!  What if I just planned ahead??  Well, then it wouldn't be my kind of art... 

I'm really enjoying how it is coming together now...

The news just ran a reminder to take your turkey out.  I just ran and took the turkey out.  It takes one day of thawing for every 4 pounds of bird. 

The other night at dinner, we were talking about whether Rob and I were going out on a date.  Sydney finally piped up.  She said it was like we'd always been this old couple that had been together a long time.  But, now we were like newlyweds on a honeymoon.  And, it is cute...and a little bit creepy.  That seems appropriate for a teen, right? 

Rob keeps reminding me of a commercial from a while back where some kid comes home, thinking his poor parents are already in bed, asleep, on a Friday night...and boring.  But, really, the parents were out on the town... and the wise ass kid was home alone.  It's time for her to be home alone some.  She's a grown up.  It's time for her to get another job, too!

Everybody have a great Monday.  It's Thanksgiving week.  I'm feeling thankful.  Thankful for my little family and our home and the life we live.  For friends and extended family and a job I understand and am good at.  Thankful that I am me, always changing, but somehow, always the same. 




A little Linus love

Now that the studio is all back together and the big Bernina is back in place, I was able to show Linus some love.  I have several tops that I pieced over the summer that need to be quilted and turned in.  This was the first one. 

I really do love this pattern for Linus quilts.  It's easy and fast.  The whole thing is pieced from 2.5" strips and bricks.  It's got a lot of diagonal seams, so is a good one for that method I use to sew diagonal lines, using a post it...sorry, can't remember when I described that.  And, when it was time to quilt, I just did ditch work around the stars.  Simple, and it only took a few hours.  Everything for this quilt came from the "free" pile.  It's all scraps, leftovers, and things that people gave me to use in Linus quilts..   

I still need to bind it.  I want to do a foldover binding because it's easy, but I'm not sure yet.  There are some issues, like I think I didn't leave myself enough fabric on one side. 

The pattern is Barbed Wire from the book Twosey-foursey Quilts by Cathy Wierzbicki.

All is good here.  We laugh.  We laugh a lot.  And, we make mistakes.  Not sure I can say anything better than that. 

Yesterday was my new managers big annual review meeting.  It was the first time I got to sit in one.  Much ado.  But, now it's over.  He and I took a walk to the cafeteria, for a cup of coffee.  Of course, the cafeteria was closed, but we took the chance to just sit at a table, not in an office, and have a chat.  He works in Cleveland, so we won't see one another often and he wanted to make that personal contact.  It was really cool and, while I'm very independent, it made me feel important. 

Okay, that's it for me today.  Everybody have a great...whoa!  is it Wednesday already?



One thing and another

I know that I've been a bad blogger.  Honestly, it's not intentional.  But, so many things have changed.  And, it's taking me more time than I thought to adjust. 

If it's any compensation, I've become a much more fantastic-er husband.  Not that I was any slouch before, but our relationship lacked something that we've found in the last two months.  Something that got lost in the parenting and bill paying and drudging through workdays.  A certain excitement...that electric spark that lets you know your partner is in the room, even when you can't see them. 

Sydney is 18 now.  She doesn't need us the way she used to.  She may want that same attention, and she may go about trying to get it the same way she always has, a.k.a. not turning in her school work until it's very late.  We just aren't paying that much attention to it.  We get a notification about grades, we send it to her.  If it gets too bad, we lock her down like a maximum security prisoner.  If she don't like that, she can turn in her damn homework. 

No arguing.  Leaving Rob and I to focus on one another.  And, it's sappy gross, like an over the top hallmark movie.  And, I LOVE it!

The MIL's visit went swimmingly.  Of course.  She is the easiest houseguest ever.  The only thing we ever argue about is that she will use the same glass to drink water out of all day, emptying it, bringing it to the kitchen, and looking for it next time she is thirsty.  That ain't how water works in the south.  You keep your glass with you all the time.  So, every time she sits it down, I wash it.  "You don't have to go to all that trouble..."  So, I've made it a game.  She tries to hide it from me.  And, I try to find it. 

She was here two days after I left for Cleveland.  I think Rob was a little nervous about hosting without me.  But, they did fine.  Syd stayed on from school on Monday and they went on a driving tour around Austin.  And, Tuesday, I think they lay around and rested for her flight on Weds.  But, they had Mexican food for dinner.  She is a very adventurous eater. 

It was absolutely clear that she does not support gay marriage.  And, she managed to go all week without ever saying even one thing about it, even when Rob told her the story of our two marriages.  WE have her support.  As long as WE are happy. 

I can respect that.  We don't push our position on her.  She doesn't push her position on us.  We all politely keep our damn mouths shut because no discussion of the topic would change anyone's mind about it.  And, we get along famously.  She'd make a great diplomat. 

Work has really picked up.  This conference in Cleveland was the annual meeting for all the people at my job level.  It's always nice to catch up with people.  Familiar faces.  Dinners.  And a little of adults acting like children.  Working with my new boss is going well.  We have very compatible senses of humor.  He is incredibly busy right now, and hasn't really had much time to spend with me, and I keep assuring him, it's okay.  I'm pretty self sufficient anyway, and if I run out of work, I'll be sure to let him know. 

I ran into my previous manager in Cleveland.  She was very happy about how things worked out for me.  She believes this will be a good match for me and will provide some nice challenges.  She shared something with me that most people probably never get to hear about themselves.  She told me my reputation.  As it was passed to her, and as she passed it to my new manager. 

I can be very direct, and that intimidates some people.  But, nobody refuses to work with me, which she seemed to think was kind of remarkable.  It's just the opposite.  People ask to have me on their teams, or to do research for them. 

And, give me the most basic framework of an idea and send me off to create it.  You don't have to give me specific instructions, just answer my questions as I go.  And, what you will get back will be exactly what you wanted...or better.  I think that's the quilter in me; working from a basic idea and fleshing it out into a finished piece.

She said that was her favorite thing about working with me.

Hey, people have worse reputations, right? 

I came out to one of my friends yesterday.  Not as gay, but as a quilter.  But, I didn't call myself a quilter.  I called myself a fiber artist, specializing in quilted art.  And, I showed him pictures of my work, and ribbons.  I get a variety of responses when I talk to non-quilters about quilting and while he clearly has no appreciation for the medium, he loved the art. 

So, now I'm a fiber artist with a studio in my home.  Well ain't that la-dee-da. 

But, I'm still me.  That man quilts!

See ya!  Lane


Too good to use

Who else.  Go ahead and admit it.  Who else has things that are too good to use?  When my Grandmother passed away, they found all these beautiful things.  Because they were too good to use.  Somewhere, there is a satin baby comforter that I received at birth.  I still have it.  And, the lace is still perfect around it.  Because it was too good to use. 

Unfortunately, I tend to do the same.  We were re-doing the dining room and I decided to make some things.  I wanted to end up with a new tablecloth.  But, now that I've got it, we're all afraid to sit at the table for fear we will drip something on it. 

First, we got new curtains. 

Then, we hung a new quilt and put different dishes in the cabinet. 

Then, I made a tablecloth...and placemats.

Isn't that lovely? 

I used the Pfaff 7550 to do the embroidery around the edge.  It took nearly 900 yards of thread.  The table cloth is 60x80.  I used a water soluble embroidery interfacing, and I also used a small, thin hoop to help keep the fabric from folding inward from the tension of the thread.  I washed it and let it partially dry, then hung it.  The embroidery did shrink a bit, but the iron took care of that and brought it back to size and shape.  The base of the tablecloth is a new blue twin sheet.  I searched and searched for something we wanted for a tablecloth and never found it.  Then I stumbled up on the sheet in the perfect color. 

The placemats use fabrics from the quilt.  I used the same templates to draw shapes on the mats and quilted that in, then did a quick foldover binding.  Wash and block and we're ready to go. 

Robs Mom comes this week.  And Syd has her birthday.  18.  Big week for us.  She got a new phone on Saturday.  And, she wants to bake her own cake.  So, that's not going to get easier. 

We spent the weekend cleaning.  Life is good.  Everybody is getting along.  The family working together.  Rob and I getting closer and closer, talking about more and more.  sharing and getting to know one another. 

Life is real good. 

And, having a little color in our formerly brown and yellow dining room is GREAT!

Everybody have a good Monday. 



The flag

The day we got married the first time (really, how many people get to say that...) Rob bought a rainbow flag to fly in front of the house to celebrate.  I tell the story here

The short version is that when he went to pick up the flag, the city wanted it to fly over city hall.  And, he gave it to them and they flew it for weeks after, to commemorate the special day in Austin.  He bought a smaller version that we flew in front of the house.

Rob had given up on ever seeing the original flag.  It had been a while and the guy said he would try to get it back to us.  But people get busy. 

It came in the mail yesterday. 

The flag.  Pictures of it flying.  And, a letter from the man at the city. 

We are seeing it as an affirmation of our marriage that the universe saw fit to send this flag back to us.  (course, all the kissing and hugging ain't hurting that affirmation any, either.)

We haven't even had a chance to fly it yet.  But, you can bet it will be in front of our house, soon. 

Everybody have a great day. 

We woke to no water pressure and a ten inch jet of water shooting out of the curb, in front of the next door neighbor's house.  Yay, us!  Very early showers that took forever to rinse off the soap.  But, we are clean...now they can turn the water off if they want.



Blocking, the last step

First, I really didn't mention it, but this quilt was quilted on a vintage machine.  I quilted it on Lorene, my Singer 401.  This machine belonged to the Mother of a friend and when she passed, the friend wanted the machine to go to someone that would use it.  And, I do.  It's a great machine.  Lots of power.  This one has lots of miles on it and was used to sew for the public.  But, it's still a great machine.  I'm not a huge fan of the drop in bobbin.  I'm old fashioned and I like a bobbin case.  This one makes a sound as the thread passes around the bobbin and hits a tension spring that keeps the bobbin case in place.  I shouldn't even mention it because I've gotten it worked out til it's just a whisper.  But, I still know it's there.

So, when the quilt was finished, it still had blue washout pen all in it, even though I had spritzed it as I went to remove as much as I could.  That had to be washed out thoroughly and the quilt needed to be made wet so it could be blocked. 

Let's talk about which quilts should be blocked.  Blocking is hard and tedious work, so you don't do it on all quilts.  I do it on show quilts, and on wall hangings, and sometimes on a gift quilt.  I do not block bed quilts or lap quilts or utility quilts.  These quilts are to be used and laundered and I'm not going to block repeatedly.  So, blocking is for quilts that won't be used and laundered a lot.  Or to make a quilt extra pretty before someone special receives it.

Our washing machine is one of those new fangled water saving models, which is great for the average load of laundry, but sometimes I just need a large tub full of water to soak something in and the machine isn't great at that.  So, I soaked it in the kitchen sink, rolling and refolding it often so it all got equally wet.  I drained it in the sink, then mashed it.  Never wring!  Mash the water out.  When I got all I could there, I laid it flat on two towels and rolled them up and walked on it, mashing the water out. 

It took four towels, using them two at a time.  Sometimes, if I'm working something larger, I'll need to use a utility quilt that can be thrown in the dryer. 

  • Then, I pin it to the carpet.  I lay a sheet down because that helps wick moisture from the back of the quilt outward where it can evaporate.  Also, there are air pockets formed where the carpet fibers don't touch the sheet.  That also helps with evaporation.  I use two rulers when I block.  We have a moisture blocking pad under our carpet.  That has a plastic coating on the top and I don't want to puncture that and ruin the water resistance, so I only pin into the burlap backing of the carpet. 

The square ruler goes inside the binding.  That one squares the quilt.  I use the longer ruler on the outside.  That one helps me measure the length of each side and keep the outside edge straight and true.  And,  I pin.  And, I pin.   And, I pin some more.  I go around the quilt twice.  The first time, I'm pinning about every six inches.  This is just to stretch the quilt and get it to size.  I WILL have to go around the quilt again and re-pin, so no need to put too many pins in that will have to be moved later.  This is not about straight lines, either.  I get straight as I can, but the edge looks scalloped when I'm done.  Measure on the diagonal from corner to corner.  If the quilt is square, these measurements will be equal.  Just because all four corners are square doesn't mean that quilt is going to hang square on the wall, (I don't understand why four square corners and four straight lines wouldn't be a square, but trust me, it happens) so this diagonal measurement is very important. 

The second time around, I'm using that long ruler again to true up the edges.  This is when the edges need to be perfectly straight and the corners true.  And, this time, the pins go in every two to three inches.  On a large quilt, that can take hundreds of pins. 

On a large quilt, I will often square up each of the four quarters of the quilt just like this.  I stretch out the long center lines and pin them down, then square the quarters off that. 

And, then I put a fan on the quilt and let it blow the water away.  You really need a dry day for this.  We happened to have one on Sunday and this quilt dried in about four hours.  It has a hobbs heirloom wool batting and all the fabrics are cotton except the quilting thread, which was monofilament. 

And, here it is in its new spot in the dining room.  We moved the china cabinet to make space to hang it.  We even pulled out a different set of dishes to show it off.   

Everybody have a great Wednesday. 



I wonder what he thinks now....

First, before wondering what Rob thinks, I made this feathered star block this weekend.  On a whim. The scraps have been in a basket next to my machine for a while and I just picked it up and went for it.  I have an idea for where this is going, but no commitment yet.  The is a project that can go as far as the red and white scraps I have will take it...

About a year and a half ago, Rob contacted me about a Bernina machine he and my mentor had found in Goodwill.  The machine and cabinet were $40 and did I want it and when I wrote back and said yes, he said good because he'd already bought it.  It's a Bernina 817.  Lots of these were used in classrooms.  Seems to be a good machine.  Basic.  Six stitch patterns.  Strong. 

It didn't really fit in the cabinet it was in, and the cabinet was in pretty bad shape, so that went back to goodwill.  But, the machine stayed.  The machine made a horrible noise.  Turned out that the belt was so tight that the machine couldn't operate.  And, it might never have been oiled.  EVER!  I spent a day or so working on it and got it to work...sorta.  At least I thought I had.

The other night, Rob came into the studio to watch some TV with me while I worked on a new tablecloth.  I was hemming it with this machine.  And, it was making a terrible racket.  And, I couldn't figure out why.  It was very distracting during the show we were watching and I wondered if he was still glad he found this machine and brought it home for me.  And, I felt a little embarrassed...he doesn't come in the studio to watch TV often and I was a distraction...but we all got through it.  And, yesterday, I started working on the machine again.  The belt was too tight again and I'm wondering if that came from using it, setting the belt tension while the belt was warm, then when it cooled it was too tight.  I reset the belt while it was cold and then I started oiling the machine again.  And, I worked on it as long as I could.  Then, I started again this morning.  Now, it's just purring along.  It's not as quiet as it was when it was new.  But, it's a good solid quiet machine for piecing.  I'll have to let you know how it quilts. 

Now, I'm going to pull out a different machine to do some decorative stitching.  Off to...well, I'd like to say sew...but it's really work.  That blessed pastime that pays the bills.



It's a Girl!

Okay, yeah, that title is intentionally misleading, but you'll get why I chose it.

Rob came to me and asked me to make a quilt for a co-worker.  She was due in like three weeks.  I wish there was an emoticon for the face I made.  We went to JoAnn's and picked a lovely focus fabric with tree branches on it.  The baby's room was decorated in a nature theme, so that was perfect.  We came home and I washed the fabric and cut the pieces and assembled the top.  And Rob came home and told me the lady was expecting a girl...

So, this quilt wasn't right anymore.  So, back to JoAnn's and we bought the same tree branch fabric in green and I pieced the exact same pattern in green, quilted it, and sent it.  We missed the delivery, but it was on her desk when she came back to work.

That left us with this lovely blue top that I pulled out the weekend Rob and Syd went to the coast and finished.  I put a lot of special little efforts into this quilt and I thought I'd show them off.  First, all the tree branches move in the same direction, so there is a definite "up" to the quilt. 

Second, I quilted this template into the center block, then echoed it at a quarter inch out. 

But, then, I used different elements of the template to fill all the smaller pieces.  Maybe I used a corner, or a point, or a curve.  But, they all came from this template, except the flower shapes that are in the brown squares.  For that, I pulled another template. 

In the large background sections around the stars, I used a half of the template. 

And, in the flying geese, I used just one of the corner points. 

When it came time to bind the quilt, I was trying to select a binding fabric.  I wanted to use one of the blues.  But, when I talked to Rob about that, he talked about how it's a distraction when a binding is made of one of the fabrics used in a pieced border, unless that is planned out very well.  And, I didn't.  He suggested I bind in the brown, but I didn't have enough of that, so I decided to do a Magic Binding.  

The Magic Binding is made up of two strips, so I cut a narrow strip of brown and a narrow strip of blue and sewed them together to create the binding.  I did that in WOF sections, then joined the sections with a diagonal seam.  What it gave me was a dark brown flange along the edge of the binding that separates the blue in the pieced border from the same blue in the binding.  It worked great, even though I only enjoyed half the magic.  I actually hand sewed the binding to the front of the quilt so I wouldn't have that extra line of stitching that showed on the back that they talk about in the tutorial. 

Another thing I did for the first time was to sew the unfinished edge of the sleeve into the binding.  That was a neat trick.  It meant I only had to sew the sleeve along one long edge, instead of along both long edges.  The sleeve isn't as easily removable as my others, but then I've never found a need to remove a sleeve from a quilt.  So, who cares?

Anyway, it looks great with the new blue curtains in the dining room, but there's not really a place in there to display it.  So, it will hopefully help bring the blue of the dining room into our brown living room.  This weekend, I will wash it to make sure I have all the blue washout pen out of it, and then I will block it square.  That will take an hour or so to pin down to the floor, exactly square and stretched to its real proportions.  But, it is soooooo worth it in the end.  It is always the last step before I enter a quilt in a show...just that little finishing touch.  I haven't done a post on blocking in a while, so maybe I'll post pictures of this one pinned out and how I do it.

Everybody have a great Friday!  I intend to get back to some hand quilting this weekend.  And, I have a miniature started that I need to move forward.  Rob has asked for another quilt for a friend.  And, I have a quilt that I'm making to donate for next year's Guild show to the boutique.  A busy quilting boy is definitely a happy quilting boy.



A lovely wedding gift

Rob and I received a lovely wedding gift this weekend.  A friend from the guild and the bee I was in made us a quilt to commemorate our special wedding day on July 4.

She used photos from the day in front of the capital, tiered like a wedding cake on a red, white and blue background.  She appliqued our names at the top and the date at the bottom.

She said that a card commemorating our day "wouldn't be good enough for that special day!" 

Thanks so much L.  It's lovely and we will hang it to commemorate our special day.  Thanks so much for thinking of us in such a creative way!

Married life is a change.  I know it shouldn't be.  But, it is.  And, for Rob and I, it's been a positive change.  A very positive change.  But, it's work.  Hard work.  Last night, Sydney and I were doing dishes and she said something along the lines of I don't get it.  You two got married and suddenly got closer.  You're spending all this time locked in your room laughing.  And, my response was that she was so lucky that her parents found a second wind in their relationship and chose to be closer rather than drift apart.  And, if she wasn't sure about how cool that was, she could ask her friends.

Of course, her typical teenage response was that her friends with divorced parents say it's really easy to play them against one another and get whatever they want.

But, I could tell, she knows it's special.  I can tell that she has an appreciation for watching us interact and watching us get closer. 

Everybody have a great Wednesday. 



Another shirt?

I haven't tried to make a shirt since last October when I got on my last garment making rift and drew out my own custom pattern and made an orange one with sleeves that were too short.  (Crap!)

But, I have several pieces of shirting, just waiting to be turned into shirts and so I pulled one down for some inspiration and gave it another go.  Nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?  I even did the fancy stuff like embroidering my name in the collar stand and my monogram in the cuff. 

Anyway, after a week of very intensive work, I ended up with a garment. 

That almost fits.

I need to take some size out of the side seams.  But, I'm getting closer and closer.  One day I'll have a pattern that truly fits me.  And, it will be great.  At least the shoulders and sleeves fit.  And, the collar too.  I've lost a little weight since the shirt pattern was drawn.  That made the excess I added around the middle more of a thing to be dealt with than it was a perfect fit.  The other mistake I made was the buttons on the front are slightly too large.  I picked a 5/8" button and I need to remember that I want 1/2" buttons.  And nothing larger.  Anyway, I wore it last Monday and it worked great.  So, there's another successful shirt made.  I'm ready to make another one, just to tweak the pattern.

I wonder if there's such a thing as bad electricity.  We seem to be having fits with things that run on electricity going haywire this summer.

The fridge was on the fritz.  Two repair visits...well, three because they had to come back the day they installed the parts because something was loose and vibrating and making a terrible loud sound.  But, it's all back in order now.  The ice maker is working, the fridge is working.  The freezer is working.  Yay!

When Rob got home on Friday, the compressor unit outside was working, but the inside fan unit for the a/c was out.  He managed to find a repairman that would come on Friday night and HAD THE RIGHT PART.  So, by the time I got home, everything was working again.  He's a wonder.

Okay, so that's it for me today.  Everybody have a great Monday.  I finished several things over the weekend, and now that I can upload pics again (YAY!!!!) I can get back to sharing my world with you.