Blocking weekend

Somehow, I've ended up with several things that need blocking.  I didn't get to all of it.  The Simply Delicious applique quilt...I don't quite know.  I got it into the washing machine and pulled it out before I hit the start button.  I'm so afraid that the unwashed fabrics in that quilt will run.  But, I have to figure out something.  I just wasn't quite ready on Saturday. 

So, I decided to do the green quilt and the little miniature.  And, I dropped them into the washer and saw some threads that hadn't been knotted and buried on the green one.  So, I let Rob move regular laundry forward while I tied knots.  And, tied knots and tied more knots.  And, then, I had to pick out some quilting and replace it to get rid of a couple of puckers on the front of the quilt.  I clearly wasn't as ready as I thought I was.  But, I finally got it all done and we washed it.  And, another story begins.

I've changed brands of wool batting.  I'm not going to say who I've been using, but when I would wash a quilt for the first time, it stunk and I'd have to wash it again.  The quilt I washed Saturday had to be washed three times.  To wash out a smell that must have been in the batting. 

But, I finally got it blocked out.  Both of them. 

This quilt is not square.  This quilt is never going to be square.  The center of the quilt is more densely quilted than the rest.  And, while that gives it the effect of one quilt lying on top of another, it causes the center to pull in.  It's not too far off, tho, after the blocking.  One side is a little more off than the others.  So, I'm going to measure the quilt along the center line and cut my sleeve that width and ease the difference into that longest side and hope it works.  I actually think it might.  I'd like to get a sleeve and a label on it and take it to show and tell at the next guild meeting. 

Early Saturday morning, I decided to try blocking my needlepoint piece.  LD had given me advice and I'd been reading and watching videos.  First thing that went wrong was the iron.  I don't put water in my irons.  I spray my fabrics with water from a pump sprayer and then iron them.  So, I put water in my iron to block this piece and when I pushed the steam button, it leaked out the side of the iron.  Fizzle.  No steam.  That probably means it's time for a new iron.  And, then I spritzed the work and started to work that in as steam by ironing through a pressing cloth.  That clearly was not changing the shape of my piece.  So, I wet a towel and my pressing cloth and put my work in the middle, like a sandwich and ironed over it all.  And, the next time I tried to pin it to the board, I tugged and pulled and added steam...and all of a sudden, something let go and it became flexible and squared right up...almost perfect.  Again, one corner is a little pulled out of shape, but the framing mat will cover that. 

This is from the back.  I'll pull the tacks and show the front in a couple day.  But, I'm pretty proud of my back.  It's not as nice as the back of the piece I'm working on now, but it is admirable for a first effort.  Very neat and flat. 

Lest you think I'm a slacker that just played with making wrinkly things lay flat again, I also cleaned out cabinets in the garage.  I got one large unit cleaned out and cleaned out the shelf where I keep all my tools and paints for the mini house and upholstery supplies and that big tub of leftover yarn.  (Ugh)

Then, I got to my storage.  And, decided that could wait for another day.

Yesterday, I made smothered chops and a large pot of stew for us to eat this week and two loaves of cinnamon raisin bread.  And, I finished quilting the baby quilt and cut the binding.  But, that's a post for another day. 

I will tell this funny story.  A quilter recently asked me to help them find a hopping foot for their machine.  I'm not any better at answering questions than I am following a pattern.  So, I told her how to find one and shared my experience for maintaining them so they last a long time and talked about how they will eventually wear out.  On Sunday, my Bernina was making a terrible noise.  Terrible.  And, it was frustrating me.  So, I'm doing everything I can...moving the thread cone holder, re-threading the machine, oil the bobbin hook, clean the feed dogs, change the needle.  Then, I took it completely apart and oiled and lubed it (never a wasted effort).  And, it was still loud. 

It was my hopping foot.  I'd worn it out.  And, it wouldn't hop, so it was clicking and grinding and catching.  And, a drop of oil didn't make a difference.  Fortunately, I buy these feet in quantity, so all I had to do was find another one.  But, it just goes to show, soon as I talk about something wearing out, it will.

Everybody have a great week!  It's going to be a busy one at work again.  My boss has a big presentation on Wednesday, and he's anxious and that's never good for anybody.



The baby quilt

Remember that a couple weeks ago, I picked up a kit from the baby bundles group at guild.  And, I didn't know what to do with it.  They gave a pattern to sew the blocks together in a 5x5 grid, and the thought of that made my brain hurt.  Or, maybe it was my hands.  Or maybe it just offended my sewing machine. 

Anyway, I decided to take it as a challenge.  And, a challenge needs some rules, so I decided to use all they gave me and I could add anything I want. 

First, I laid the fabrics out.  And, I looked at them.  I took a picture and I thought about it at work.  Hmmm.  There are some large scale prints there that I'd like to not cut into. 

So, I split them into fabrics I would cut at the top and fabrics I wouldn't cut at the bottom.

Then, I started to pair fabrics up.  This has 12 pairs, plus a rainbow left over.  But, I wanted a square quilt.  So, only my  favorite 9 pairs.  As I was thinking about all this, I was thinking about a pattern.  I could use an uneven 9 patch with a very large center.  And, if I did, I could use one block uncut and cut the other into four strips.  But, that wouldn't fill the corners.  So, what if I used two of these fabrics and cut them into squares instead of strips.  That would give me enough corners for 8 blocks, but I needed 9, so substitute in another fabric for the corners of the 9th block. 

And, I made the nine blocks.  Get a load of the block in the center.  It has grandma and nana printed on it.  It had to be the center.  And, the red corners set it off. 

That used up 20 of the 25 blocks in the kit, plus the red for the corners of the center block. 

Next up, borders.  I almost used some gingham because that's what they gave me for the back and I thought it would tie the border and the back together.  But, it was busy and I didn't care for it much.  So, I went to my stash, and I came up with these borders.  Note the outer corner squares...you're about to see that fabric again.

The backing piece they gave me was about 40x54".  That would have done the 5x5 pattern they gave me, with none left to spare.  But, what I ended up with is 46" square.  So, I added a strip up the center of my backing from stash.  My camera doesn't catch it, but the yellow of the gingham print is the same shade as the background of the center strip.

And, I ended up with a very cute quilt.  This weekend, I plan to baste it and hopefully start the quilting soon.  I want to trace my hand on freezer paper and iron multiple copies to the front of the quilt and quilt around them.  Maybe.  I'll have to let you know how that goes.  It's something I want to use for another quilt, so this is a great time to give it a try.  And, I want to work on my machine binding skills, so I plan to make a flanged binding for this quilt, using strips of two different fabrics and sewing it completely down by machine. 

And, that's how I turned a boring charity project into an exciting project that I am enjoying.  I needed the challenge to stimulate my brain.  I'd gotten kind of out of the "thinking of quilting" habit and was too focused on the news.  This got me back to things I enjoy and I hope I can keep my mind there. 

It helps that we're not getting the crazy tweet of the day now...Thank you Mr Kelly! 

Everybody have a great Friday.  I just turned in a huge project at work that I got when someone else gave up, so I had a very, very short deadline.  And, somehow, I got it done on time. 

Not somehow...I got it done because I focused everything I had on that project and came up with some relatively brilliant work, if I do say so myself.   (Cuz nobody else probly will.)

Today, it gets reviewed by a lawyer, so I'll have questions to answer.  But, other than that, I think I got it! 

Now, back to our quilting, currently in progress.  And, yes, that is a seam ripper you see...cuz nobody's prefect!




Short post today.  I managed to spend all my time searching for my Surface.  It had to be routed from it's hiding spot behind an oversized book.  That's the thing with a tablet.  When they hide, they are well and truly hidden.  It got there when we were cleaning carpets this weekend.  It's all part of our fall cleaning project.  Carpets on Saturday, and on Sunday, we did all the upholstered furniture in the living room.  The animals all stalked around griping that "you're ruining all our wonderful stink!" and "we just got the joint smelling like we want it to and you mess it up with all this cleaning." 

What a wonderful smell clean is.  It smells like nothing at all. 

I was trying to choose between two posts.  One was the baby quilt from last week.  The top is pieced and so is the back, so now it's just basting and then the quilting can begin on that.  Six and a half hours is not bad for me to piece a top and a back.  And, it came out really cute and I'm excited to talk about it...when I have the time to talk.

I also still have a tissue paper marking tutorial to do for the background pattern I didn't use in the broken star quilt.  I started it and got four blocks done and realized it was NOT right.  So, I studied how star quilts are quilted and found an inspiration and on Saturday, I ripped the old quilting out and on Sunday, started quilting the new design in. 

I decided to go with what I know, feathers.  Because there's a reason I know feathers.  I like them.  And, yes, I'm tired of them, but that just means I need to use them in new ways, right?  So, that's what I tried to do here.  Instead of filling each block with a feather wreath which is what I didn't want to do, I put the feather wreath in and let the star sit on top of it.  I think I can live with that. 

Friday, I spent the day with our friend, LD.  We had a needlepointer's holiday.  She has pulled out her projects and chosen some to work on and I took my projects and we looked at needlepoint and we talked about it and she showed me a new stitch to use.  Then, we went to lunch and went yarn shopping.  We had a delightful day and a lot of laughs and when it was over, I think we were both a little tired.  It was a great way to spend a day off. 

Everybody have a great Monday.  It's the start of a new week.  The next two weeks will be very busy...but then I get to take some more time off. 

I am excited.  I don't know how I built all this time up.  But, it's a reminder that I wasn't taking good care of myself while I did. 

Work/life balance.  It's all the rage now.



Where everybody knows your name...

Sometimes you want to go
Where everybody knows your name.

Okay, so it's not really true.  Not everyone at guild knows my name.  And, I don't know theirs.  But, we have quilting in common...we know at least that one thing about one another.  Whether we've been quilting for 5 minutes or 55 years, we all have at least one thing in common.  And, I needed that connection.  Life has been a little disjointed lately and friends helped.  The invitation to sew with a group, the we've missed you, seeing a friend who's been very ill and has returned, and another whose husband was sick, the friend that took one of the classes I taught and has always stayed in contact who I see blossoming into an accomplished quilter.


I needed that. 

And, I introduced myself to a male quilter that has just joined.  Course, it was at that time that my brain went soft and jelly-like on me and I couldn't think of anything to say.  It was a very disjointed and awkward conversation.  But, I did tell him about my blog, so Brian, if you're reading this, wasn't the quilt last night wonderful?  What got you into quilting?  Did you enjoy your first class?  I promise, I am normally capable of conversation. 

The speaker last night was Nancy Prince.  She does thread paintings and her talk was on the creation of her quilt On This Winter Day. 

She had the background printed and layered and quilted.  Then she thread painted all the houses, buildings, animals, equipment and people and attached them.  It was a very interesting speech that said as much about who she is as it did about her quilt.  Seven years and two thousand hours and seven million stitches.  No wonder it's won so many awards, including 2014 Best of Show in Houston.

The Highland Lakes guild was at our meeting selling raffle tickets.  I don't usually buy raffle tickets because I never win.  But, I'd be proud to win this quilt. 

It was an original design by the guild and quilted  by a very talented local quilter.  It is truly a thing of beauty...and several of us had to check out the back, which showed off the quilting detail better. 

And, I took a baby bundle kit.  I really shouldn't do that.  They are always a challenge.  The group focuses on every baby should have a quilt.  I think that quilt should be pretty.  I see some not pretty quilts being donated.  I'm a snob and I know it and I'm not even ashamed.  So, I'll take this kit and add some of me to it and make a pretty quilt.  Because that's what I do. And, the challenge will be good for me.  When I opened the kit this morning, I thought "oh, no, oh, no, oh, no, oh, no".  But, then I decided to see the challenge of it.  So, I'm going to spread it out again and take a picture with my phone and look at it every so often during the week, and then see what I can come up with. 

Everybody have a great Tuesday.  I'm trying to figure out when I can take some time off.  I was notified yesterday that I was about to be in a use it or lose it position.  I don't believe in losing it.  EVER.  I earned it.  It's mine. 

And, I can use it to quilt.



Didn't realize...

Did you ever have one of those blog days where it seems nothing goes right?  I was going to do a tissue paper marking tutorial, but that deserves more time than I can give it today, after my series of small errors.  Camera won't cooperate, photos not right, computer issues, nothing of any note, just a bunch of little things that ate up time. 

It was a very cleaning weekend around here.  I know most people clean in spring when they open their houses after winter.  But, we close our house in the summer and we open it up and clean in the fall.  I got a lot done...all the appliances and cabinet faces have been washed and I washed all the fingerprints off the doors we use most and scrubbed the foyer and scrubbed the shower with a brush.  Yep, a good start was made.  Let's see how much I get done before I run out of steam. 

I realized this weekend when I was straightening up in the sewing room that I have made all the blocks for the Have A Jolly Little Christmas BOM that I'm going to make.  She offered a couple more for us to choose from, but these are the 12 I chose for my quilt. 

I'm going to sash them with white and I have a paisley border that is greens and reds and was used to choose all the greens and reds I used here.  It's going to be wonderful.  I've just got to sit down now and finish it. 
And, that's why quilters shouldn't scrub the shower with a brush.  It takes too much time away from quilting.  Besides, what's the point of having a 19 year old if I'm doing all the hard work???
Everybody have a wonderful Monday.  I'm still sending good thoughts to Florida.  The news we saw was terrible. 


For my next trick...

Remember when Bullwinkle used to say "for my next trick, I'm gonna pull a rabbit out of this hat."  Well, my next quilting project turned out much like Bullwinkle's attempts to pull a rabbit. 

But first, my cat got sick. 
I've been singing Soft Kitty to her.  Well, till I got the $302 vet bill.  Then, I started telling her she was obligated to get better.  No choice.  And, she did.  Probably had more to do with the antibiotics.  But, whatever.  Makes me feel better to think I had a hand in it. 
So, this is the quilt I pulled out of my hat.  This is a Broken Star quilt that I made in half size, so it came out a quarter of the size of the queen sized pattern.  It finishes at about 46" square. 
Very cute quilt.  Lots and lots of tiny pieces.  I enjoyed piecing it and it looks great...from a little distance.  But, like Bullwinkle pulling out a rhinoceros, when I got close enough to quilt it, I realized that more of those points don't match than I originally thought.  And, there are a lot of slightly curved lines that should be straight.  And, while you can't tell it from the front, you can definitely tell it from the back.

This is the back I Pieced.  The leftover yardage from the border fabric is a great, busy print that hides most of the errors.  A lot more would have been hidden if I'd used blue thread instead of off white.  But, I'm not picking it out for that.  I already picked out the whole center because of the way the white thread showed up on the dark blue fabric on the front.  I've switched to invisible for the star points and I'll do the rest with the off-white.  That should show up nicely in the white squares. 

I'm nearly done with the star points.  Just a few sections to go.  And, then I have to draw something for the white squares.  Not quite sure what that's going to be.  Not a feather wreath.  I've got to be able to think of something more original than that.  And, I am honestly feathered out.  So, I'll think and think and think and draw some ideas. 
And, I'll probably end up going with the feather wreath.
Watching three storms.  Irma is expected to do the same kind of devastating damage that Harvey did.  I feel for the people that are trying to evacuate and sitting in traffic and I'm sending my best to the people that have chosen to stay.  Scary times. 
Climate change being real, and all that, you know.  Can/t say it often enough on my little platform when morons are squealing the lies against it from theirs. 


Left handed binding

Yesterday, I picked all the key limes off the tree.  It was exactly as much as the recipe called for to make a pie.  This is our first year to have limes.  I got the tree last year and it's still pretty small. 
Several technical errors were made...tin was too big for the filling, baked 2 minutes too long because the filling was spread too thin, meringue pulled back from the crust...but, it was tasty.  A little tart, but tasty!
We took some pictures of what I've figured out about binding as a leftie.  I'm using a warm up piece, which is a whole cloth quilt that I created to play on.  I use one to warm up if I'm doing complex quilting and I use them to try new patterns to see if I can do them, or what I need to pay attention to when I do them. 
First, I cut my binding to 2"...I like a very narrow binding.  And, I join the strips at 45* angles.  And, I fold it in half (I have a neat trick for that that uses a safety pin and folds a whole binding in a very few minutes.)

I don't pin my binding.  Even with the walking foot, that never seems to work for me.  But, it takes a lot of time to do, and then I end up pulling the pins anyway.  So, I skip that and sew my binding twice.  I sew it once at 5/16" allowance, which is halfway between a quarter and 3/8".  That attaches it to the quilt.  Then, all the way around again at 3/8".  I like 3/8" because when I fold that to the back, it forces the edge of the quilt to fold along with it, which gives me a full and slightly stiff binding. 

I mark a diagonal line at the corner (sorry, I forgot to take a pic of that.)  And, I sew up to that line.  Because it's a diagonal line, both of my seams work right when I sew to the line and backstitch.  Then, I fold to the right, parallel with the edge of the quilt.  

And, then back to the left, which gives me that little triangle that doesn't get sewn down.  I mark the diagonal line on this side as well...you can see it if you look close.  And, I start sewing a little ahead of that so I can backstitch to the line.  This is the method I learned from watching Eleanor Burns on her TV show. 

Then, I fold the binding to the back.  Now, if I was right handed, I would sew right to left.  And, when I approached that corner, I'd sew down the side I sewed down by machine first.


But, I'm left handed, so when I approach that corner, I'm first sewing down the side that I machine sewed last.  And, that never works out well.  So, I've learned to pin the side I sewed down by machine first as I approach the corner.  That puts the fold that creates the miter on top of the corner, just like it would if I were sewing right to left. 

And, that gives me a much cleaner corner.  Of course, I could not get the one I was taking pictures of for you to turn out perfect, but I got it really close.  Close enough for anything I'm making for home.  I might have picked that out and tried again if it had been a show quilt.  Remember, this is the corner from the back.   The front looks near perfect. 
So, just pinning that side down so that it ends up under the fold, like it would if I were sewing right to left has made a big difference in how my bindings turn out. 
Everybody have a good week.  It's a short week, but it's also first week of the month, so lots of reports.  And, my boss has asked me to do something that's realllllllllly challenging.  I worked on it a little Friday, and couldn't figure it out.  But, fresh start, and all that, right?
Be well.  Lane